President Museveni yesterday lamented what he called the collapse of systems governing elections in the country and accused the Electoral Commission of conniving with Opposition politicians to rig the ruling NRM party out of polls.
In an 11-page missive titled: Election Rigging in Uganda 1961-2014, Mr Museveni chronicled his own account of Uganda’s electoral history, dating to the first pre-Independence election in 1961 right through to the last general election in 2011.
A few hours after the missive was released to the press, Mr Joseph Bbosa, the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) Vice President, however, said Mr Museveni’s accusations are an attempt to justify the cases of rigging that his government has superintended over.
In the missive that Mr Museveni penned as his NRM party reels from an electoral defeat in Luweero, he delved into what he claims are manoeuvres employed by the Opposition, in connivance with electoral officials, to steal elections.
“Especially elements from the Opposition, totally lacking in ideology or mission other than thirst for power and money, engage in rigging where the NRM vigilance goes down. I have got information to this effect - in the case of the by-elections in Bushenyi, Entebbe, Kasese and, just the other day, in Luweero. In Kampala it has been habitual…”
He cited “integrity of election officials, on the one hand, as well as the loyalty and vigilance of the candidate agents” as the yardsticks to ensure free and fair polls.
“Where these three – integrity of the election officials, loyalty and vigilance of the candidate agents, are lacking, then the whole system collapses. We are back to 1961, 1962 and 1980,”Mr Museveni wrote.
Reacting to the President’s letter, Mr Erias Lukwago, a key Brenda Nabukenya mobiliser, said: “That [allegation] is an indictment on the Badru Kiggundu Electoral Commission,” Mr Lukwago said.
He added: “He is violating the Constitution for not taking action against the actors of the commission. That is a very serious matter because he alleged election theft in 1980, went to war and about a million people died.As head of state, he owes a duty to this nation to set the law into motion against anyone taking back the country to that”.
When Mr Museveni’s Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) lost the 1980 elections to Milton Obote, he rejected the results and launched a five-year Bush War that ended when his then guerilla outfit, the National Resistance Army (NRA) shot its way to Kampala in in 1986.
Mr Museveni’s election victories in 2001 and 2006 were challenged in court by Dr Kizza Besigye, with the Supreme Court ruling on both occasions that the elections were not conducted in conformity with the Constitution and electoral laws. The court, however, also said such non-compliance did not affect the ballot substantially so as to warrant a nullification of the result.
Yesterday, Ms Kasule Lumumba, the NRM Chief Whip, warned that her party chairman should also shed light about constituencies that have been won by NRM MPs, only for courts to overturn the result-citing connivance with electoral officials.
In telephone interviews yesterday, Electoral Commission officials declined to comment about the President’s accusations, insisting they could not respond by yesterday before coming to grips with the contents of the President’s letter.