“That’s what Africa needs – social transformation – not this circus of changing leaders”

A quote from Museveni. The story in the Monitor today, via allAfrica.com, is headlined “Museveni Willing to Let Besigye Rule”:

President Museveni, who marks 25 years in power today, will hand over power if he is defeated in next month’s election.

In an interview with the BBC World Service, Mr Museveni, the incumbent, said he would retire if he lost in a democratic process but said he expected to win with a big majority.

President Museveni, who is fighting a fourth election and the third against main challenger and former ally, Dr Kizza Besigye, has previously said he would not hand over power to his rival.

I will accord at least some significance to Museveni saying this. I thought it was conspicuous at the time in the run up to Kenya’s 2007 presidential election that Kibaki, so far as I was aware, never made such a statement. Raila Odinga stated publicly that he would accept a Kibaki win, but only the Foreign Minister, Raphael Tuju, made a reciprocal statement for the Kibaki administration. Did this mean that the message was for foreign diplomats rather than Kenyans?

On Monday, a group of opposition leaders called for a delay in the election date to allow the issuance of voter cards and a clarified register:

There are 13.9 million voters according to the provisional register released by the EC which figure the opposition and other stakeholders have questioned for a country where 56 per cent of its 32 million people are recorded as being younger than 18, the threshold of adult voting age.

. . . .

The opposition leaders say absence of voters’ cards, proliferation of ghost polling stations, a bloated voters register, multiple registration, and with foreigners and under age voters preparing to participate, the elections won’t be free and fair.

Calls for a postponement come weeks after the FDC sued the electoral body, seeking a declaration compelling it to issue cards to newly-registered voters.

EC Secretary Sam Rwakoojo has contended that Section 35(3) of the amended Presidential Elections Act, 2010, provides for voting without the voters cards as long as one is able to prove to the polling officer or assistant that his or her name and photograph appear in the register. Hearing of the case continues.

In the meantime, FDC leader Kizza Besigye, and his compatriots in the opposition vow they will announce their own version of the results. The opposition, whose repeated demands for broad electoral reforms were ignored by government, is adamant that the EC is not impartial in the matter and cannot be trusted to return an impeccable result.

Dr Besigye has unsuccessfully contested the last two elections which the Supreme Court found were not conducted in accordance with the law, were marred by irregularities, including rigging, but that the rigging was insufficient to have a substantial effect on the final result.

Of course an inflated voter role was a key issue in the failure of that 2007 election in Kenya as reported by the Kreigler Commission.

Interesting to note this week that Museveni has now come out in dissent from the “international consensus” that Gbagbo lost the election in Ivory Coast, saying that a full investigation is needed.

On Tuesday, the U.S. State Department issued its Travel Alert for the election period:

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Uganda to the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections on February 18, 2011. U.S. citizens in Uganda during this period are urged to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation throughout the election period. This Travel Alert expires on April 18, 2011.

Uganda’s 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections generally were orderly and peaceful, and there are no indications that the 2011 elections will be any different. Nevertheless, the State Department recommends that U.S. citizens monitor the local news for changing security developments throughout the elections. Instances of localized unrest related to the elections are possible, and U.S. citizens should be aware that even peaceful gatherings and demonstrations can turn violent. U.S. citizens should maintain a high level of security awareness at all times and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind.

.  .  .  .

For an anthropology take on the campaign, see “DJ M7” from The Africanist keyed off the Afrobarometer poll discussed here.

And, the Uchugazi platform is up with the website for Citizens Election Watch IT, and on the blogroll.

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