Museveni opposes UN on Ivory Coast polls

Monday January 24 2011

Museveni opposes UN on Ivory Coast polls

President Museveni.  File Photo

By Tabu Butagira

President Museveni has described as “simplistic” the UN’s recognition of Alassane Outtara as winner of Ivory Coast’s disputed presidential ballot and instead called for an independent investigation.

State House called this newspaper yesterday (Jan. 24) to say Mr Museveni prefers the African Union sets up an ad hoc committee to find out how the conduct and results of the vote have generated a difference of opinion.

“There is need for a serious approach that involves investigating the (electoral) process, including registration of voters and who voted,” presidential Spokesman Tamale Mirundi said, quoting Mr Museveni.

“There should be investigations, not just declaring who has won. No, no, no!”

The West African country held a presidential re-run vote on November 28 in which the international community says Mr Outtara defeated incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.

They have since asked Mr Gbagbo, who controls much of the government, to hand power over to his bitter rival while the UN and other western nations have accredited diplomats appointed by Mr Outtara.

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“Uganda differs with the UN and international community on Ivory Coast,” Mr Tamale said, “If elections are contested, you just don’t declare one candidate a winner. You must investigate thoroughly what went wrong.”

Separately, West Africa’s economic bloc, ECOWAS, is considering military action to depose adamant Gbagbo.

It has also emerged that Mr Museveni and his host, Mr Jacob Juma, during a meeting in South Africa last Friday, agreed to push for an independent continental inquiry into the Ivory Coast elections.

“The two leaders condemned what they termed as a simplistic approach by the international community to address the Ivory Coast problem,” an official privy to the discussions in South Africa, said.

As it turns out, former South African President Thabo Mbeki was shoved aside as a mediator and replaced with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga because he favoured independent investigation much to the chagrin on the international community.

Political executives of the African Union will during their sitting on January 31 to February 1, due in Addis Ababa, seek to harmonise the disparate positions to extricate the conflict-prone Ivory Coast from the present quagmire.

Yesterday, Spokesman Tamale said Mr Museveni and Mr Zuma prefer an alternative approach because “each country has a Constitution and framework within which to solve internal problems”.

“So it is not up to the UN or international community to recognise this or that winner; the matter must be investigated,” he said.

In just under a month, Ugandans will go to the polls to choose a new president, Members of Parliament and other local government leaders and Mr Museveni, winner of two disputed previous elections, is a candidate.

His key opponent and Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) flag bearer, Dr Kizza Besigye, has made clear he is setting his own vote tally centre and will announce the results after the February 18 vote.

President Museveni has warned Dr Besigye will be taking a “short cut” to Luriza prison if he dared to announce the results. Mr Tamale yesterday said the opposition leader’s insistence could create an impasse akin to the one prevailing in Ivory Coast, explaining why efforts are being made to stop him in his tracks.

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