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Former Close ally, Bidandi hits back at Museveni

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by ByaseL, Sep 1, 2009.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Sep 1, 2009
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    Charles Mwanguhya Mpagi

    President Museveni’s “arrogant” refusal to accept electoral reforms could lead to violence and instability, former minister Bidandi Ssali has warned.
    In letter to the President urging him to reconsider his position, Mr Bidandi said Mr Museveni’s decision to reappoint members of the Electoral Commission had closed the door on useful dialogue on election management in the country.

    “The decision you have made to reappoint the current Electoral Commission team to manage the 2011 general elections is very unfortunate and dangerous to the stability of this country,” Mr Bidandi wrote. “You ignored and disregarded the opinions of the Supreme Court, the civil society organisations, the opposition politicians and the international community, all who are key stakeholders.”

    Mr Bidandi, a former Cabinet minister who now heads the People’s Progressive Party, was a close ally of the President and secretary general of Mr Museveni’s Uganda People’s Movement. After losing the 1980 election, which was widely disputed, Mr Museveni launched a five-year guerrilla war which brought him to power in 1986.

    President Museveni has won three elections since 1996 but massive irregularities with the last two and his reluctance to plug holes identified by the Supreme Court and a coalition of opposition parties have left him vulnerable to accusations of seeking to steal the 2011 election.
    This is Mr Bidandi’s second letter to Mr Museveni on electoral reform after the President wrote back and said he saw no need to fix the system further after introducing one ballot box, paper and counting results immediately.

    In his letter, however, Mr Bidandi chided the President for seeking to benefit from an unlevelled playing field. “Incidentally Mr President,” he wrote, “with the overwhelming grassroots support you claim you command in the country, why are you averse to a free and fair electoral process?”
    Mr Bidandi warned that the electoral process, which has resulted into petitions in the last two elections, is still flawed and could lead to post-election violence such as happened in Kenya.

    “Mr President, I put it to you that you are dragging this country along a very bumpy and potholed road. We all need to arrive at destination 2011 and beyond safely,” he said.

    The former Local Government minister was sacked after he opposed President Museveni’s ultimately successful machinations to remove the two-term limit from the Constitution to allow him run for re-election.
    President Museveni, Mr Bidandi said, was “basking in the confidence” of having consolidated the army, militarised the police, created paramilitary squads, intimidated the population through state functionaries, and strung every institution of governance under his whims.

    “But be sure Mr President none of these, not even the combination of all of them will sustain any regime in power for long leave alone creating conditions of peace and development,” Mr Bidandi wrote.

    “All they can achieve is incubating a catastrophe for the country to eventually hatch into torture and wanton killings of innocent citizens.”
    He added: “Mr President, the people of Uganda reserve the right to hold you and the executive responsible for any dire consequences following your controversial option to disregard every voice of reason and caution from the various sections of Ugandans and development partners, like you and many others did to past leaders.”

    Mr Bidandi’s letter, in which he says he has been told he is Mr Museveni’s “enemy number one” is dated August 22 but it is not clear whether the President has read it or responded to it yet.

    President Museveni’s Press Secretary Tamale Mirundi wondered why Bidandi “after failing to talk to the President like he used to do” has resorted to writing letters.

    “If he wrote it to the President why does he want everybody to know that he has written? Is it amazing that a person who used to be in Cabinet now resorts to writing to the President through newspapers? I don’t know if the President is interested in even replying such a letter.”

    Bidandi’s letter comes amidst a wave of protests, mainly from the opposition, sparked off by Mr Museveni’s reappointment of all the commissioners who presided over the discredited 2006 election. Only Sister Margret Magoba, who chose to retire, was not reappointed.
    The opposition had earlier presented proposed reforms which included a call for a more inclusive selection of electoral commissioners. Dr Kizza Besigye, leader of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change party, has refused to acknowledge the new team and has called for a public uprising against it.

    The Electoral Commission head office in Kampala remains garrisoned with a heavy police presence for a second week after youth from the FDC threatened to storm it and force out EC Chairman Badru Kiggundu and his team.

    Despite the opposition protests, time for the reforms to be implemented is fast running out and the silence from progressive members of the ruling National Resistance Movement, which enjoys a majority in Parliament, suggests there will be no bi-partisan support for electoral reform before the 2011 election.