Friday, January 7, 2011

Our role in the Great Lakes will be non-violent

In this analytical piece published by Daily Monitor on Monday, Margaret Wokuri shows how the NRM has failed to live by the ideal of loving your neighbour as yourself. She shows how the IPC government is going to change that by harmonizing regional, continental and international relations

Martin Luther King Jr. said that a nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defence than on programmes of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. IPC role and engagement in the Great Lakes region will be informed by this wisdom because for the last two decades, Uganda has spent huge amounts of money fighting enemy after enemy and often antagonising sister countries in the region.

In 1998, Uganda unconstitutionally plunged into DR Congo purportedly to ‘intervene’ in the then raging conflict that ensued there. After this war, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Uganda had violated the sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Congo, plundered its natural resources and was responsible for human rights abuses when it sent its troops there. It found that by engaging in military activities against the DRC on the latter’s territory, by occupying Ituri and by actively extending support to irregular forces in the DRC, Uganda violated the principle of non-use of force in international relations and the principle of non-intervention. Uganda is expected to pay $ 6-10 billion in reparations.

When elected into power IPC will have to apologise and negotiate with DR Congo so that this heavy fine that threatens to enslave our children and grand children can be forgiven. While in the Congo still, Uganda again locked horns with Rwanda – a conflict that has since left a sour taste in the relationship between the two countries. IPC recognises that while there is the seeming pretence that the relationship between Rwanda and Uganda is harmonious, there is suppressed frustration that needs to be dealt with through dialogue to restore the good relationship.

There have been incidences of bad blood with Kenya, as a result of the perception that Uganda had a hand in the killings of the 2007 Kenyan post-election period. The bad relations also surfaced when both countries claimed Migingo Island. Again, there is a false quietness about Migingo.

IPC government is committed to an everlasting solution by establishing and putting to public where this island belongs. IPC recognises that the people of Southern Sudan have for long suffered, and that Ugandans have made great sacrifices to ensure that they come out of the deplorable life they have been subjected to and enjoy a dignified life. Right now, some people would solely want to take credit for the sacrifices Ugandans have made by creating the impression that without them, there would be no support from Uganda. IPC government will continue harnessing the harmonious relationship by giving the necessary constitutional support to the people of Southern Sudan.

In addition, IPC government will engage in peace talks with the people of this region to put down the bad feelings resulting from the alleged UPDF looting of timber in Congo and southern Sudan. In 2007, the Ugandan army was accused of illegally logging valuable timber from Southern Sudan and taking it back to Uganda. The allegations were in a detailed report by the independent Swiss-based research group, Small Arms Survey. It said Ugandan soldiers had been clearing teak forests in Southern Sudan.

Uganda is currently engaged in a vital role in Somalia –a noble assignment by the African Union. IPC will seek the involvement of other African countries.

On the whole IPC relations will be guided by the policy of non-interference and respect of sovereignty of neighbouring states.

Ms Margaret Wokuri, director for communication and publicity at the IPC campaign bureau wrote this article in consultation with her organisation’s leadership

Besigye leaves Acholi happy to find landmines in Luwero

Observer's Edris Kiggundu reports about Dr. Kizza Besigye's reception in Acholi on his campaign and what it means for the opposition

No change, IPC candidate tells Acholi

Gulu, Luwero– The opposition alliance flag bearer ended his campaign tour of Acholi last week with an appeal to the people to vote for him, again, saying the country is united in its desire for change.

Dr Kizza Besigye also used the campaign to make one of the biggest political pronouncements that had little to do with the political dynamics of the sub-region. The FDC leader announced during a couple of rallies in Amuru and Nwoya districts that Erias Lukwago was the favoured opposition candidate for mayor of Kampala.

Besigye’s passionate plea for the Acholi vote came amid fears that the ruling NRM could dig into his stronghold – going by the last two elections – following restoration of peace here after 20 years of insurgency.

During the week the IPC leader spent in Acholi, he kept saying that the NRM adamantly championed the military option rather than a peaceful resolution of the conflict, thus inflicting severe damage on the populace.

He said Yoweri Museveni’s government accepted to talk peace with the LRA after coming under pressure from religious leaders and donors.

If the sub-region votes for the NRM, Besigye said, its fortunes shall not improve just like the other sub-regions that have consistently voted for Museveni but which continue to wallow in poverty.

“There is no reason why you should not vote for change like you have been doing. This time the whole country is behind us and we shall protect our vote,” Besigye said.

Besides trying to stem NRM’s growth here, Besigye also had to contend with the prospect that the opposition vote could be split by the two presidential candidates who hail from this sub-region— DP’s Norbert Mao and UPC’s Olara Otunnu.

As of last week, it appeared as if Mao and Otunnu had not yet made the needed political penetration to threaten Besigye’s hold onto Acholi. In districts like Nwoya, Lamwo, Amuru and Pader, DP and UPC do not have enough grassroots structures to counter the FDC.

Also, FDC has the highest number of candidates vying for political office at all levels in the districts of Acholi. The IPC flag bearer was careful not to criticise these two opposition candidates publicly, and instead devoted more time on pointing out the failures of the NRM.

Judging from the reception he got, Besigye remains the sub-region’s favourite candidate. Wherever he went, cheering crowds looked destined to keep behind their man.

However, it is doubtful he will repeat the 2006 feat when he scored 77% of the vote here. Simon Oyet, the Nwoya County MP, told The Observer last week that Besigye will win resoundingly in the sub-region because most people are still skeptical about Museveni, despite the peace.

“This talk of peace does not work here. Look at the people, they are still in misery. They have not benefitted from government’s resettlement programme,” Oyet said during a campaign stop in Nwoya.

Towards the end of the Acholi campaign, Besigye was joined by former Buganda Katikkiro, Joseph Mulwanyamuli Ssemwogerere, Kampala Central MP, Erias Lukwaga, Mukono North MP, Betty Nambooze and Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, who is contesting for the Kyadondo East Parliamentary seat.

The four are all key members of Ssuubi 2011, a pro-Buganda pressure group allied to the IPC. Ssemwogerere told the people of Nwoya and Amuru that Buganda first placed its faith in Museveni after he restored the kingdom in 1993, adding that later the NRM leader turned against the Kabaka.

“That is why we are supporting Besigye because he is trustworthy and does not go back on his word,” he said in Pabbo sub-county, Amuru district.

Besigye also used the presence of the four individuals in Acholi to make a big political pronouncement that had little to do with the local politics here.

The FDC leader, while addressing a couple of rallies in Amuru and Nwoya districts, introduced Lukwago as “the Mayor of Kampala”. It is the first time Besigye has openly sided with one of the opposition candidates in the race that pits Lukwago against Michael Mabikke, leader of the Social Democrats Party (SDP).

The issue of Kampala mayoral candidates has split the IPC, with some leaders backing Mabikke while the mainly Ssuubi-leaning officials support Lukwago.

The IPC electoral affairs committee chaired by Rubaramira Ruranga announced Mabikke as the official coalition candidate, but Ssuubi which signed a memorandum of understanding with IPC last year, rallied behind Lukwago.

In backing Lukwago, Besigye appears to have realised that he is the stronger candidate. But it remains to be seen how Mabikke, a fellow member of the IPC Summit by virtue of being SDP leader, will react to the move.

What is clear is that the announcement will further deepen the rift within IPC.

Back to Buganda

On Sunday, Besigye started his second leg of his Buganda campaign in Nakaseke district on an unfortunate note. Two vehicles belonging to one of his local party supporters, Moses Kabarema, were burnt.

At Ngoma sub-county headquarters where the IPC candidate had his second rally, the venue was surrounded by Police officers.

Later in the evening, Besigye was blocked under unclear circumstances from accessing the premises of Nakaseke FM where he was scheduled to have a talk-show.

The IPC campaign team had paid for a two-hour talk-show but after Besigye’s rally at Nakaseke sub-county headquarters, he found the radio premises padlocked. The radio proprietors, afraid that Besigye’s team could use force to access the premises, had deployed Police for protection.

On Monday, Besigye took the campaign to Luwero district. During the rallies, Besigye attacked Museveni for his continued criticism of past governments, saying he had not performed any better.

“He went to the bush because of rigging but today NRM is specialised in rigging,” Besigye said. He urged his supporters not to fear and to resist any form of intimidation from security agencies.

FDC meets mixed fortunes in the Shs500 fundraising drive

Three weeks after launching the Shs500 per-voter-per-week fund-raising drive, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) says it has received  overwhelming response from supporters. 

The FDC is further encouraging its supporters to embrace the party’s campaign strategy dubbed “the Power of Five” by recruiting more members and create chain support for regime change on February 18, 2011. 

Speaking to reporters at the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi on Dec. 16, the Interparty Cooperation Director of Communication and Publicity, Margret Wokuri (pictured) said the amount of the first contributions from the Shs500-per voter fundraising drive would be announced soon. The fundraising through mobile money transfer system is a new innovation in Uganda’s politics.

However, the fundraising has encountered hurdles especially regarding contribution of Shs 500 through MTN mobile money service which does not accept amount less than Shs5000. Some supporters also would send money as airtime yet the telecom companies do not convert the airtime into cash. 

Sometimes the supporters would call the specified deposit telephone numbers making them busy and hard for other supporters to send their contributions on the same lines. 

However, Wokuri said most of the hurdles have been sorted out and the supporters can continue contributing to the cause for change. She said IPC and MTN agreed that supporters can now send Shs800 via mobile money where Shs300 will go to the telecommunication company and Shs500 to the IPC account. This is happening only on the MTN network. Wokuri said Airtel and Utl continue to accept Shs500 donations via their mobile money transfer systems.

To rectify the challenges, the IPC has advised its supporters to continue sending their donations on 0776433555, 0756755555, or 0718932055. For clarifications about the fundraising, supporters are advised to call 0704903658.  

“The essence of fundraising is not to raise money but to draw commitment. If someone put their money in this campaign, it shows they are determined to vote us and they cannot be bought off or intimidated to change their mind. The fundraising is aimed at encouraging Ugandans to work towards getting change of government through recruiting more supporters and new recruits bringing others on board,” Wokuri said.

IPC supporters can contribute any amount but Shs500 is the minimum. Contributions are received from anybody wherever they are. 

The IPC urged its candidates at all levels to emphasise the Power of Five campaign strategy based on the five critical national issues: jobs and  economic empowerment; quality education; a functional healthcare system; roads and infrastructure; and support to farmers and agriculture.

The strategy not only mobilises the masses to vote Dr Kizza Besigye but all the candidates from LCI to the president on the IPC/FDC ticket. 

The ‘Power of Five” is likely to be more popularised by the kickoff of the parliamentary campaigns on December 16. 

Wokuri urged IPC candidates to spread the message of the electronic fundraising and the five-recruits per voter to create a chain link to achieve regime change. 

 “IPC has candidates allover the country and has helped fail the NRM from winning posts an opposed at local government level,” she said. 

However the Electoral Commission figures show that 1,270 candidates are contesting for the 238 directly elected MP seats while 443 are standing for the 112 District Women MP seats under affirmative action. 

A total of 367 candidates are standing for the 112 LCV seats across the country. The FDC has 52 flag-bearers for the 112 LCV seats and is second to NRM in fielding the biggest number of candidates on these posts. The FDC has 189 candidates standing for directly elected MPs and 81 for District Women MP seats.

Poverty will be Museveni’s legacy, says Besigye

No doubt! according to this Daily Monitor article by Fred Muzaale

The Inter-party Cooperation presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye, has said poverty will be President Museveni’s legacy.

Dr Besigye, who was addressing campaign rallies in Nkonkonjeru, Kayanja, Ssenyi, Kasubi, Buikwe, Nyenga and Lugazi towns on Thursday, said: “The NRM government is responsible for these upheavals we are in because it has been in power long enough than all other past governments combined together.”

He added: “Twenty five years is long enough for one to effect changes so what President Museveni has not done in the 25 years he will not do it in only five years.”

The IPC leader also accused some Baganda leaders of betraying Buganda and the Kabaka by crafting and supporting laws that suppress the Kabaka and his kingdom.

“The Cabinet meeting that discussed and approved controversial traditional leaders Bill that intends to abolish kingdoms and to demean the Kabaka was preside over the Vice President. Even the Land Amendment bill was passed by some Baganda leaders,” Dr Besigye said.

He warned residents against electing leaders basing on tribal grounds.

Dr Besigye said his government will ensure free movement of the Kabaka in his kingdom and also revive food stores to stabilise food prices and stop middlemen from cheating of farmers.

Security threats force Besigye to skip rallies

This article by Daily Monitor's Emmanuel Mulondo shows how insecurity is interfering with the campaign progress of Dr. Kizza Besigye 

The Inter-Party Cooperation presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, did not honour four rallies in Mukono District after it emerged that his security was in danger.

Not even his security detail provided by the Electoral Commission got to know about his whereabouts but Dr Besigye later rejoined the group at Namataba.

He missed rallies in Gooma, Katoogo, Kayanja and Naggojje.

“It is true but we don’t want to blow it out of proportion. We should leave it at that,” he said yesterday.

The former Buganda Katikkiro, Mr Joseph Mulwanyammuli, who is also a special campaigner for Dr Besigye, told this newspaper in Buikwe yesterday: “We realised his security was in danger and decided that he should take another route and that is what he did. Meanwhile, I went on addressing the people in those areas telling them that Dr Besigye had sent greetings to them.”

The development came after news of sabotage allegedly organised by the National Resistance Movement supporters reached their camp. This forced Dr Besigye to use another car instead of his personal campaign vehicle soon after the rally at Kalagi.

He held rallies in Nakasajja, Kyampisi and Naama.

Yesterday, he addressed gatherings in Buikwe, Busabaga, Nkokonjeru, Ssi, Kasubi and Nangunga before proceeding for the main rally at Lugazi town. Today he proceeds to Buvuma Islands.

FDC protests ballot paper format

The Forum for Democratic Change has protested and questioned the format the Electoral Commission has used to arrange candidates’ names on the presidential ballot papers.

The provisional ballot paper, seen by this newspaper, has People’s Development party candidate, Abed Bwanika’s name at the top, while incumbent President Museveni is at the bottom.

Dr Bwanika is followed by FDC’s Kizza Besigye. Uganda Federal Alliance’s Beti Kamya’s name comes third, Norbert Mao of the Democratic Party is fourth, followed by Bidandi Ssali of the Peoples’ Progressive Party on the lineup that also sees Olara Otunnu in sixth and independent Sam Lubega preceding candidate Museveni.

The petition
In their December 30 letter to the EC, the opposition seeks to know “how the names were arranged to appear on the ballot paper.” They, however, do not give their preferences.

Ballot papers for the February 17 and 18 polls are expected in the country in a fortnight. According to EC secretary Sam Rwakoojo, the format of putting names on the ballot paper depends on how candidates present their names to the commission during nomination.

“We cannot arrange the names for them because we don’t know which of those names is a first name or not,” Mr Rwakoojo said.

On January 3, the commission replied to the FDC in a letter signed by EC chairman, Dr Badru Kiggundu.

“The order is done in accordance with section 12(1)(b) of the Electoral Commission Act, 1997 as amended.” It adds: “And in line with the preferences made by the candidates on their nomination particulars.”

EC to the dock
Meanwhile. the EC confirmed receiving the court plaint by FDC suit over failure to issue voters’ cards and said they are in the process of filing their defence.

“If you insist on having voters’ cards, that could be a recipe for disfranchising voters who have lost their cards,” Mr Rwakoojo said. The case will be heard on January 12 before Justice Eldad Mwangushya.

EC to probe violence against opposition in Nakaseke

Well, according to this Daily Monitor article by the Electoral Commission is showing signs of biting 

The Electoral Commission (EC) has said investigations into the violence that occurred in Nakaseke District when the Inter-Party Cooperation presidential candidate was campaigning there, are underway.

During Dr Kizza Besigye’s campaign tour in Nakaseke recently, two vehicles belonging to an FDC candidate were burnt and his family beaten.

The thugs torched vehicles belonging to Mr Moses Kabarema, an opposition candidate seeking to unseat Finance Minister Syda Bbumba

The act was seen as an attempt to disorganise Dr Besigye’s campaign rally in the area.

In another incident, as he planned to appear on an already paid for talkshow at Nakaseke FM radio, Dr Besigye found the radio doors locked.

The EC said it will investigate the incidents.

“The commission has noted cases of non- compliance of campaign regulations like denying a presidential candidate access to a radio station in Nakaseke.

We shall follow up the matter with the relevant authorities,” Dr Kiggundu said during his weekly media briefing at his offices in Kampala yesterday.

“The commission also noted the violence also in Nakaseke where motor vehicles were set ablaze…even as we await police report; we condemn what happened and ask that all Ugandans be tolerant of one another.”

Meanwhile, Dr Kiggundu said printing of ballot papers had begun and they would be delivered in the country two weeks to the polling date. The general elections are slated for February 18.

The ballot papers are being printed in the United Kingdom and China.