Dr Besigye, Museveni is a legitimate President
Posted Sunday, November 3 2013 at 00:00
I read a commentary by Dr Kizza Besigye under the heading “Prof Baryamureeba is a falsely perceived intellectual, a sycophant” in the Sunday Monitor of October 27, 2013.
Dr Besigye was responding to an earlier article by Prof Baryamureeba in which the professor had criticised him for having walked away from the Independence Day celebrations venue in Rukungiri.
I am not bothered about the Besigye walkout. Whether he left prematurely is not an issue. He was simply exercising his democratic right under the NRM leadership. He has been criticixing the NRM government for denying Ugandans their rights. He chose to go for the function on his will and chose to leave at his own calling. Dr Besigye was not forced or threatened that if he hadn’t attended something would happen to him, neither was he sent away.
In the past during the UPC regime, some people were forced to attend some functions against their will and if one left mid way a national function like Dr Besigye did, they would never be seen alive again.
That is Uganda’s history in contrast to the Uganda of today where people are exercising their individual and group freedoms. What we expect from those enjoying their freedoms is to avoid infringing on the freedoms of others.
In my opinion, the mistakes Dr Besigye and his friends have been making is trying to hold public rallies in markets and forcing themselves on busy public roads knowing that their action will inconvenience other road users but are never bothered about their actions. When police intervenes to create order then Dr Besigye says he is not being let free to exercise his freedom of movement, etc. That’s the problem we have had with Dr Besigye and his group.
Otherwise, when both Mafabi Nandala and Maj Gen Muntu were campaigning for the FDC leadership, they freely traversed the country. Even after Gen Muntu was elected, he has been moving around the country meeting various people without an incident.
For Dr Besigye, the meeting place must be a market or a busy road where people are busy doing their business.
My disagreement with Dr Besigye in the article under reference is when he wrote that “Mr Museveni may be legal but he cannot be a legitimate President of Uganda. As such, Ugandans do not have to accord him the respect due to the office of the President of Uganda”.
According to Dr Besigye, President Museveni is not legitimate because in his electoral petitions of the presidential elections in 2001 and 2006, a majority of the Justices of the Supreme Court ruled that the elections were not conducted in accordance with the law.
What Dr Besigye either forgets or deliberately leaves out is that the majority of the same Justices ruled that although there were incidences of malpractice; they could not change the results that Mr Yoweri Museveni had won the elections. Even those Justices who ruled against upholding President Museveni’s win had never ruled that the winner was Dr Besigye. They instead recommended a repeat of the elections.
What this means can be illustrated as here under: If a candidate beats the other by 2,000,000 votes and it is proved in court that 100,000 people were denied their right to vote either through deletion from the register, intimidation, etc, or in another incident a polling station with 1,000 voters is found with 2,000 votes cast, hence, ballot staffing, the court would point out the malpractices and still uphold someone who was declared a winner because the margin is high. Some malpractices sighted in the past elections notwithstanding, under the NRM, Uganda has witnessed electoral reforms.
These include, voting in the open, counting and declaring results immediately after voting in the presence of voters, tallying in the presence of candidates’ agents, and giving ample time for candidates to be nominated as opposed to 1980 when candidates were given only six hours.
That notwithstanding, the last four presidential elections President Museveni has won have reflected the will of the people of Uganda, hence, Mr Museveni is a legitimate President of Uganda.
The writer is the senior presidential adviser on political affairs.