Opposition presidential candidates in Uganda worried

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Opposition presidential candidates in Uganda, currently campaigning for the forthcoming elections, have appealed to the international community to keep a keen eye on Uganda’s elections so they are not marred with rampant malpractices.

Opposition parties in Uganda have complained against the East African country’s Electoral Commission for not issuing voters’ cards to all voters.

The complaints were aired in a meeting that was organized by the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) in Kampala. The meeting sought to address issues pertaining to all eight presidential candidates.

Although seven opposition candidates have been campaigning for the February 18 presidential election, Dr. Kiiza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change, the main opposition party, is expected to run as President Yoweri Museveni’s main challenger.

According to Besigye, “There is need for international community to ensure that Uganda’s elections are free and fair. In the past, we were won through cheating. This time it should not happen.”

Besigye also said that the opposition will put in place a votes tallying center–an act the government has opposed, saying that only the electoral commission is empowered to tally votes and announce results.

The group of opposition candidates argue that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) is creating a situation of election malpractices by not issuing voters’ cards to every voter.

According to Uganda elections commission boss, Badru Kiggundu, four million Ugandans who were recently registered have not been issued with voters’ cards, but they will be free to vote so long as their names appear in the voters’ registrar.

Badru Kiggundu indicated that because the government was about to issue national identity cards, which can also be used as voters’ cards, there was no need to spend large sums of money issuing voters’ cards now.

But opposition parties, led by FDC, have gone to court requesting an order that the cards be issued. And should the court maintain that the NEC is obliged to issue voters’ cards to all registered voters, the elections might be delayed by several weeks or even months.

Among the other presidential candidates are Betty Kamya of the Federal Alliance, Norbert Mao of the Democratic Party, Olara Otunnu of Uganda People’s Congress and Dr. Abed Bwanika of the Peoples Development Party, who insisted that non-Ugandans are likely to vote if voter cards are not issued ahead of the crucial polls.

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