Dr. Kizza Besigye: “The 2016 Uganda General Elections and the way forward” (04.03.2016)
After the 2011 elections, all political parties (including NRM) concurred that electoral and political reforms were necessary in order to have free and fair elections in 2016.
Proposed reforms were generated by various political formations; including, the Inter-Party Organisations Dialogue (IPOD-consisting of all parties represented in parliament), National Consultative Forum (NCF- consisting of all registered political parties and led by NRM), Citizens’ Coalition of Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) and the National Consultation on Free and Fair Elections (NCFFE).
In spite of the NRM having fully participated in the various formations that presented reform proposals to government (executive) and parliament, Mr Museveni, the final authority in NRM decided that no electoral reforms would be undertaken ahead of 2016 elections. That’s what happened.
All parties and persons participating in the 2016 elections, therefore, knew that the elections would be inherently not free or fair. That’s why opposition parties and elements from the NRM were engaged in protracted discussions seeking to devise an appropriate strategy for contesting in an inherently manipulated and unfair election.
This is why my candidature adopted the strategy of a Defiance Campaign. Our clear understanding was that this was an election organised on the premise of injustice. A political defiance campaign entails informing the population about the injustice and enabling the people to organise and confront the injustice.
It’s important to note that a political defiance campaign is completely NON-VIOLENT. It employs well-informed citizens to non-violently challenge the injustices in the electoral process; protect against various forms of rigging on polling day; and ensure that the peoples’ will is respected. This was the purpose of the “POWER 10” system that we organised during the campaign.
A lot has been talked about events of the polling days, 18th and 19th February. The main problems during voting included widespread disenfranchisement of voters, especially, in Kampala, Wakiso, Jinja, Iganga, and Mbale, with more than 2 million registered voters; arrest of polling agents; pre-ticking and stuffing of ballot boxes; widespread and systematic voter bribery; and denying polling agents their Results Declaration Forms.
Tallying and announcement of results:
What is now clear is that all the injustices undertaken prior and during voting failed to deliver victory to Mr museveni. As soon the Electoral Commission begun to announce the results at the Namboole Tally Centre, the alarm-bells started ringing. It became clear that many of the results they were announcing were different from the ones announced at the polling stations.
When the pattern of inconsistency was sustained, on 19th February, we decided to address the media and draw the public’s attention to this. We’d previously alerted the country about a house in Nagulu, Kampala, where, according to reliable information, manipulation of results from Districts was planned to take place. Ballot papers were also pre-ticked in this house.
It was at this point that the police stormed our Party Hqs and, under cover of teargas, arrested our Party President Maj Gen (rtd) Mugisha Muntu, FDC Mobiliser Ms Ingrid Turinawe and myself. Our Headquarters was taken over, ransacked and kept under police control up to now.
From 19th February (the day before the announcement of final results by EC) up to now, I’ve been under police detention- either in police cells or at my Kasangati home. Access to our Party leaders and lawyers was very limited.
Several of our District Party offices have also been attacked and hundreds of our Party officials and polling agents have been detained countrywide.
It is this Police/Military operation that crippled our effort of gathering evidence and evaluating it for purposes of preparing an election petition as provided for in the Constitution.
The Constitution gives an aggrieved parliamentary candidate 30 days within which to petition. However, a presidential candidate who’s supposed to collect evidence from 281 constituencies, exclusively by affidavit (statement sworn before a lawyer), has only 10 days to do so.
The stealing of the 2016 presidential election was so clumsy and exaggerated that the Police/ Military forces had to intervene directly to stop its exposure. Even biased courts like ours could not be relied upon to protect the fraud. That’s why the electoral process was overthrown! What happened is, for all intents and purposes, a military coup. Kampala remains under “siege”, with streets reminiscent of February 1971, in the aftermath of Gen Idi Amin coup!
It may be easy to fake results, but it’s not easy to fake people’s response. There was absolutely no celebration on the announcement of the fraudulent declaration of Mr Museveni as a winner of 2016 elections. Even NRM members knew that the EC announcement was not true!
I can confidently inform Ugandans that we undoubtedly won the elections. Even with the unprecedented effort of the Police, Military and Intelligence Services to deny us our results, we now have enough to go by in claiming our victory.
We also discovered many clearly anomalous results- including over one hundred polling stations, in Kiruhura District, where 100% of registered voters cast their votes and all voted for Mr Museveni, without a single spoilt ballot paper!!
We also have horrific accounts of what happened in the Karamoja region. In most of the region, it was a military/police/mafia operation, rather than an election conducted by EC according to the law.
The way forward:
It’s on the basis of the information in our possession that we’ve demanded for an Independent Audit of the 2016 presidential election. This would mean that we would politically agree on a process of election audit that’s not presently provided for in the law, since the one provided was overthrown.
This would, basically, mean agreeing on independent auditors and supervisors that would work with representatives of candidates and the EC to carry out the audit. All candidates would commit themselves to respect the outcome of the audit. This can be conclusively done before the expiry of the current term of Government.
All peace-loving Ugandans, East Africans, Africans and members of the International Community are called upon to play a role in working towards the Independent Audit.
If this is not agreed upon, then we’ll have to proceed and exercise the mandate that was clearly given to us by the people of Uganda. We cannot let down the millions of people who supported our campaign, braved the harassment and intimidation, persevered in long queues without voting materials etc, and eventually delivered the victory.
We shall form government as mandated by our people- the Peoples’ Government.
This is the critical moment for our political defiance campaign. Let’s all remember that Government power comes from cooperation, submission and obedience of the population. If the population withholds it’s cooperation, submission and obedience, the government loses power.
I ask all our people to remain strong and vigilant, especially, members of Power 10. We shall call for non-violent actions that disempower the regime seeking to impose itself on our country. We may have to make some sacrifices and should be prepared to do so. I am confident that our people’s resolve to have non-violent change of leadership for the first time will become a reality in 2016.
One Uganda, One people!
For God and my country.