Nullify Uganda's Sham Presidential Elections

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Democracy Monitoring Group found, on the fraudulent registry, that: 139,541 dead people were listed as voters; more than half a million "unknown people" were listed; 1.9 million people had changed their locations; 418,623 foreigners, ineligible to vote, were listed; 5,000 registered voters were 100-years old or older; and 4,629 voters had the same name and birthdate, and the same polling station

[Black Star News Editorial]

Regardless of Shameful U.S. Endorsement; Toss Elections

The right to choose one's leader is a universal human right that is well recognized. That remains true for Americans, for Tunisians, for Egyptians, for Yemenis, for Libyans and for people all over the world, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity and national origin.

Ugandans were denied this right on February 18. The U.S.-backed dictator Gen. Yoweri K. Museveni by most accounts was the beneficiary of massively rigged presidential and parliamentary elections.

Today, the Obama Administration shamefully added insult to the injury. It endorsed the election theft--the U.S. State Department released a statement congratulating Gen. Museveni on his "reelection" though the overwhelming evidence shows otherwise. The State Department's actions amounted to a debasement of the concept and practise of democracy everywhere. Uganda's sham "elections" need to be anulled--the fraud has been well documented by monitoring organizations and Ugandan journalists.

Ugandans from all over the world should voice reaction to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at (202) 647-2492 or (202) 647-1512;  also call Clinton's boss, President Obama, through press secretary Jay Carney at  (202) 456-2580  or email him via , so Obama knows how you feel about the U.S. betrayal of democracy in Uganda.

On Sunday, Uganda's partisan Electoral Commission awarded Gen. Museveni 68% of the vote and 26% to his key opponent Dr. Kizza Besigye. On Saturday, before the Commission's announcement, this newspaper had published an article stating that Museveni would win by 67.2%. This information was supplied by a source who obtained the tip from a contact in the Museveni government; that contact was involved with a special unit created to manipulate the election "figures."

It was critical for Gen. Museveni to get over 50% to avoid a runoff. Logically the results aren't credible--in disputed elections in 2001 he was awarded 69%, in 2006, only 59%. His popularity has continued to diminish and yet the Electoral Commission awards him 68% this time around.

Even before the February 18 vote, an independent group, the Democracy Monitoring Group (DEMGroup), exposed fatal flaws which should have called for the postponment of the elections. DEMGroup studied the National Voters' Registry and found, on the fraudulent registry, that: 139,541 dead people were listed as voters; more than half a million "unknown people" were listed; 1.9 million people had changed their locations; 418,623 foreigners, ineligible to vote, were listed; 5,000 registered voters were 100-years old or older; and 4,629 voters had the same name and birthdate, and the same polling station.

The shocking expose was printed on the front pages of Uganda's major independent newspaper, The Daily Monitor; it was ignored by the Uganda government-owned newspaper, The New Vision, and a major newspaper The New York Times, which had a correspondent in Uganda to cover the elections.

Since the vote, the Commonwealth observers' group has declared that "commercialization" of the voting, otherwise bribery and vote-buying compromised the elections; the European Union (EC) also criticized the vote. Yet, it seems that the United States isn't bothered that fictitious and dead voters may have accounted for Gen. Museveni's "victory." 

Ugandans must not have been copied on the State Department memo. The leaders of Uganda's three major opposition parties, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) under Dr. Besigye, the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) under Olara Otunnu, and the Democratic Party (DP) under Norbert Mao, have all rejected the election results. They have called for mass public reaction in Uganda.

Yet the rigging actually began last year when Gen. Museveni hand-picked the Electoral Commission. The same Museveni Commission four years ago was found by Uganda's Supreme Court to be incompetent during the 2006 disputed elections. In fact, the opposition's challenge in 2006, claiming the elections were rigged and that it's outcome should be nullified almost prevailed. The court voted 4-3 against nullification, only after some Museveni generals are said to have threatened a military coup.

Even the U.S., which sustains the Ugandan dictator --much as Washington had sustained Egypt's Hosni Mubarak for decades-- was so concerned about election rigging that last year Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a report to Congress declaring that the credibility of Uganda's elections would be "damaged" because of the exclusion of opposition parties in determining the Electoral Commission's composition.

The day before the State Department annointed Gen. Museveni, on Monday DEMGroup issued a statement that it had discovered that nearly 2,000 polling stations across Uganda had ballot boxes with more votes than the number of people who voted. Additionally, 7% of the 23,968 polling stations, representing at least 1,677 centers that DEMGroup randomly observed, had ghost voters--fictitious voters. And on election date, the FDC intercepted ballots that had already marked for Museveni enroute for ballot stuffing.

There was always much concern that the U.S. would look the other way if Gen. Museveni stole the elections. Museveni serves U.S. interests in the region, much in the same way as Mubarak once did in north Africa and the Middle East. In the case of Museveni, he is the only African president who has provided significant number of troops --8,000-- to help prop up the U.S. installed government in Somalia, which is unpopular and not representative of Somalians. What's more Museveni's U.S.-trained soldiers are accused of war crimes by shelling Somali civilians in Mogadishu. Gen. Museveni's departure might actually attract the participation of more African countries in the attempt to stabilize Somalia.

"Through fraud, intimidation and bribery the Ugandan people have been denied the right to exercise a free choice," Mao, the DP leader has said. "The results declared do not reflect the will of the people." He also concluded: "In the words of President Obama, Africa does not need strong men but strong institutions. We urge you to realize that your relationship should be more with the people rather than the regime in power."

The Obama State Department's endorsement of Gen. Museveni's election theft sends the wrong signal. That when the U.S. talks about global democracy, as President Obama did during his 2009 Accra speech, it shouldn't be taken seriously. Yet even worse, the United States will share the blame for the possible grave consequences should Ugandans, following the examples of Tunisia and Egypt, rise up and challenge tyranny.

The U.S. failed the first test by endorsing the sham elections. At the very least it must now warn Gen. Museveni, who has widely deployed his U.S.-trained and equipped military throughout the country not to use force against peaceful popular outcry against the election theft.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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