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Uganda's Presidential Elections 2011 characterized by bribery and intimidation.

Police in action during the election period

Friday, February 18 2011 Uganda held its second multiparty politics election since the country’s constitution amended in 2000. However, this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections like the one of 2006 have been characterized with bribery, massive corruption, intimidation, vote buying and violence. In the capital Kampala, there were reported cases of bribery, ballot stuffing and multiple voting. Cases of ghost voting and multiple voting were also witnessed in many other parts in the country.

Democracy seems to have lost meaning not only in Uganda but in several African countries. The nationals who are the voters do not have free will but rather by the influence of bribery, corruption and intimidation. It is not about the political ideologies anymore, it is about “giving cash”. It is upon this background that the nationals have a culture of “no money, no vote” and this has eaten-up the political development of this country.

With the climax of the long awaited presidential elections, the final results released by the Electoral Commission show the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni as the winner with 68.4% of the votes cast counted in his favor. Inter Party Cooperation flag bearer and the President of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Dr. Kizza Besigye was second in the final results with 26%, followed by Nobert Mao, 1.86%.

The opposition said their agents were arrested and removed from polling stations in many districts countrywide. This enabled ballot stuffing and false recording of results.“Local Council officials and security agents have been threatening people of “war” if Museveni does not win this election” Said Besigye.

Before the polling date, the media in the country reported cases of bribery and attempts of buying opposition candidates and supporters by the ruling National Resistance Movement, (NRM). The most published one was the involving relatives of incumbent President attempting to buy off opposition supporters and candidates, the claims the government denies.

On the Election Day, the country witnessed ugly and nasty incidences. There was a lot of violence, intimidation, buying of voters, name it. The police and military deployed massive in the city and throughout the country, some NRM officials also intimidated Ugandans to vote for the ruling party candidates, an act described by the opposition as intimidation.

In eastern Uganda, there was a lot of violence in Budadiri Constituency in Sironko district following clashes between supporters of the ruling NRM and opposition FDC. A journalist was shot, several people were injured and others hospitalized.

Commenting on the violence in the Eastern Uganda, the opposition victim, Mr. Nandala Mafabi, the Public Accounts Committee Chairman and Budadiri West MP said this was a militarized election compared to 2006.Everything was planned to help Museveni and his people win at any cost. And that he was shot and injured in the leg and the bullet that hit the journalist was intended to finish him.

On Sunday February 19, 2011, a resident of Kampala [came to] the FDC HQ, bringing with him 17 ballot papers, which he had been given by NRM and was paid to stuff them into the ballot box when he cast his own vote. The ballot papers were all marked with votes for Museveni.

European Union (EU) election observers said that what they called an unnecessary military presence on voting day had created an uneasy, intimidating feeling.

In the same manner the Elections for city Mayors and other local councils took place on 23 February 2011, a week after the presidential and parliamentary elections. The Kampala Mayoral polls were suspended indefinitely due to reports of ballot stuffing in favor of the ruling NRM candidate. The disruptions began after 339 pre-ticked ballot papers for Mayoral candidate Peter Sematimba were discovered at Bat Valley Polling Station leading to disputes and violence.

If Uganda fails to practice democracy and the Organs of the government falling under the commands of the ruling government, the law and constitution will loose meaning, blood shed will be the order of the day, fear and tension will increase massively, worse still violence will increase not only at a national level but also domestically.

I therefore urge the international community to invest in the leadership and governance practices across all both public and private sectors of Uganda.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, which is providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training for 30 emerging women leaders. We are speaking out for social change from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

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Comments

WILDKat's picture

Freedom denied

Beatrice,

You bravely report the political corruption which ultimately results in uprisings like those we are watching to the north of Uganda now in Africa. Here in America in the state of Wisconsin, workers who are not having their politicians listen to them are protesting and Democratic lawmakers have left the state rather than give in to being strong armed into giving up rights for collective bargaining. Change among different stakeholders is tricky. If you are a beneficiary of a corrupt government, you would stand to retain that dysfunctional system. If you are a continual loser in that economic system and have nothing more to lose, then you will put it all on the line to force a change of governance.

Leadership and clear communication are tools communities rely on to make change happen. Charismatic leaders of solid values and strong characters can use their speaking and writing to move more to give up their personal gain for the gain of the greater good. These do not come easily usually. Someone in power taking away or keeping rights away does not leave easily. The strength of the masses are needed to address these imbalances.

Speaking the truth of what you witness in Uganda informs us all. Thanks for your transparent correspondence.

Naturally grateful,
Kat Haber

"Know thyself." ~ Plato

AchiengNas's picture

Thanks Kat

Thank you for training me to speak out. Thank you for mentoring me into a global thinker, able to speak to the world in the language they understand.
"Leadership and clear communication are tools communities rely on to make change happen." I am a growing leader, an agent for peace and freedom. An agent for change.

Love,

Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

AchiengNas's picture

Freedom and Justice

What is happening in my country causes, especially women to fear, to keep silent, to cool their voices because the majority of men who try to raise their voices are harshly treated. I request the government to lower to tone of punishment to the opposition group who have been described as "the annoyed", and yes they are simply annoyed by the leadership in place. It is better to address the public in the most democratic way than bartering and imprisoning, you are creating fear in the lives of women and children who witness these. AND you are teaching the husbands to do the same to the wives.
We need peace in Uganda.

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Insha Allah's picture

free and fair elections

Dear sister AchiengNas,

You have done a strong and timely op-ed. Thank you so much sharing the story of your country. My country is one of the most corrupted countries in the world. We have just finished our first and only election in 20 years after 1990. The power-holder military regime did also very similar way like yours in my country. We also have had very unfree and unfair election under the very unfair constitution. Reporting such a story to the international audience, I believe, can be an impact rather than doing nothing. Great!

Best regards,
Insha Allah

Shwe Wutt Hmon

AchiengNas's picture

Thanks Insha

Democracy has lost meaning in my country. People live in fear and tension in the cities while in Villages people are socked in poverty. No proper accountability for the funds distributed, corruption is the order of the day from the highest to the lowest levels. We need leadership trainings and mentor-ships.

Thank you for your comments.

Love,

Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Rebecca Roberts's picture

Thank you, Beatrice

... for sharing your country's recent political experience with the world. I am glad we have brave, strong and forceful women out there speaking up about the stories that don't make the "mainstream" media. Election corruption is where so many bad things begin. Your ability to point out the corruption is the best way to begin fighting back. My wish for you is a Uganda full of Beatrices who will no longer stand idly by.

Your friend,
Becki

AchiengNas's picture

Ugandan Leadership

Leadership trainings and empowerment is very vital for my country. There is a provision for change even within the opressors' minds. I request the leaders, policy makers and the top officials in Uganda to revise their leadership, have integrity and be more of peace promoter because change starts with you.

Thank you Becky,

Love

Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Julie Tomlin's picture

A strong voice

Hello Beatrice,

You have expressed great insight into the situation people in your country face, which is a considerable strength in itself.
Your strength of voice really comes through in this piece and I congratulate you on writing such a thorough analysis of the politics of your country.

Best wishes,

Yours,
Julie

@julietomlin

AchiengNas's picture

Thank you Julie

For taking your time to read and comment on my journal, I thank you. For inspiration and courage you give onto me I say thank you very much Julie.

Love,

Beatrice

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Uganda

Dear Beatrice,

It is great to hear an insider's perspective on elections in an African country. It is extremely unfortunate that there was so much violence an intimidation during this election? How did you yourself feel when you voted? Did you experience any of this intimidation, or did your friends and family? And what is being done to correct this corruption?

Keep up the great work!

Cheers,

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

AchiengNas's picture

Voting

Rachael,
Way back last year, majority of Ugandans knew this would happen (the ruling party would win) with intimidations, bribery and rigging.
Having this ugly mark in my finger at a loss is obvious. I had to vote because I am a responsible citizen and voted for appealing ideologies.

My family back home (my mother) is a 3 -1-1 supporter of the current government. She says there was no peace before Museveni came to power, and for over 25 years now there is peace...."NO CAHNGE". Country side communities are blinded in so many ways. And there is no intimidation as long as one confesses no change.

Nothing much is being done to correct corruption instead the gospel of pakalast meaning "forever rule" and extension of the term limit to seven years. Police and military are doing their job in "managing" the opposition.

I believe everybody has the potential to live a better life. Given the Opportunity, Education and Motivation ANYONE can become someone admirable. Nobody is a NOBODY, everybody is SOMEBODY.

Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Uganda

Dear Beatrice,

It is great to hear an insider's perspective on elections in an African country. It is extremely unfortunate that there was so much violence an intimidation during this election? How did you yourself feel when you voted? Did you experience any of this intimidation, or did your friends and family? And what is being done to correct this corruption?

Keep up the great work!

Cheers,

Rachael

"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

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