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Ugandan opposition leader to quit as party leader

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by nngu007, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. nngu007

    nngu007 JF-Expert Member

    Jan 13, 2012
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
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    Published On: Fri, Jan 13th, 2012
    Uganda |

    Forum for Democratic Change president Kizza Besigye. PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI

    KAMPALA – Uganda’s main opposition leader said on Friday he would quit as head of his party and devote more time to organising protests against President Yoweri Museveni’s government.

    Kizza Besigye
    , who leads the east African country’s biggest opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), has lost three elections to Museveni since 2001, when he first ran in a presidential contest.

    He has, however, rejected the results of all of them, saying the incumbent used violence, voter bribery and widespread rigging.

    “What’s urgent now is for the country to really organise a broad and strong social movement that will challenge the dictatorship and remove the dictatorship,” he told Reuters in an interview. “That’s what I would like to be involved in.”

    A former close ally and personal physician of Museveni, Besigye threatened to call his supporters to the streets if Uganda’s last presidential election, in February last year, was rigged.

    He subsequently led a series of sometimes violent anti-government demonstrations, dubbed “Walk to Work”, that peaked in April and May, drawing a harsh government crackdown that left at least nine people dead.

    In one of the protests he was pepper-sprayed in the eyes and badly manhandled, and had to be airlifted to Kenya’s capital Nairobi to seek treatment.

    Museveni has always dismissed Besigye’s claims, saying he had won the election overwhelmingly.

    EU election observers said at the time that the presence of the military on the streets had created an intimidating atmosphere on voting day, which, with other factors, had jeopardised the integrity of the poll.

    Along with the EU, African Union, the United States and Britain all criticised the poll, but stopped short of condemning the result.

    Besigye is currently serving his second term at the helm of his party, due to end in 2014, and said the party’s constitution allows for a maximum of two terms for presidents.

    “What I have now simply asked for is to bring that calendar forward so that we change over this year rather than 2014,” he said.

    He was seeking to free himself from party responsibilities and devote more time to galvanising his supporters to participate in anti-government protests, he said.

    “The reasons I gave my colleagues for that (quitting the party leadership), which they have accepted, is that one. I consider that I need more time to be involved in the broader social movement that is challenging the dictatorship,” he said.

    Traders and shopkeepers in Kampala and elsewhere in Uganda on Wednesday shuttered their shops protesting sky-high interest rates charged by commercial banks.

    The shopkeepers’ action follows similar protests last year by drivers of public transport vehicles, teachers and lawyers, all protesting various political and economic grievances.

    Besigye accused Museveni of continuing to manipulate elections by using the army and an electoral commission he described as subservient to the president, and by bribing voters using public funds.

    “Under this kind of political system it’s not possible for political parties to function,” Besigye said.

    Besigye said he might still stand for office in the future, but that he would never contest in a presidential election where Museveni was also a candidate because “it would be futile”.

    “Absolutely nothing restricts me from participating in any national election that I would want to stand in,” Besigye said.

    Asked whether he would resume the “Walk to Work” campaigns, Besigye said he would be “involved in some activities this month” and depicted Wednesday’s strike as a consequence of broader economic mismanagement by Museveni’s government.

    By Elias Biryabarema, Reuters

  2. nngu007

    nngu007 JF-Expert Member

    Jan 13, 2012
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
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    Money is sweet; It seems Museveni gave him some little stipend from OIL Money and shut his mouth