Pro-Democracy Leader, Besigye Nominated For Uganda Presidency

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Party officials were ecstatic about Besigye’s nomination. “I am very excited that retired Colonel Kizza Besigye who is a prisoner, will, come the March elections, defeat Museveni who travels in planes and has all the freedom,� said Byanyima. Maj. Gen. Muntu said they had leapt over one of the “major hurdles� in Uganda’s democratization process and “we can now see a bright future for campaigns ahead�.

The detained leader of the Forum for Democratic Change, Dr. Kizza Besigye, was the only presidential candidate who was duly nominated yesterday out of the nine who had been earmarked by the Electoral Commission.

The Democratic Party candidate, Kampala mayor John Ssebaana Kizito, was turned away from the nomination venue at Mandela Stadium Namboole in the afternoon after he failed to meet the EC requirements. After spending almost an hour verifying Ssebaana’s papers, the DP leader and his group were advised to leave and get the required signatures of registered voters supporting the nomination. Ssebaana is scheduled to return today at 10a.m.

Ms. Miria Kalule Obote, the Uganda Peoples Congress candidate, who had been booked for nomination at 3p.m., did not show up after her supporting documents failed to pass the EC test. Commission Secretary Sam Rwakoojo said some of the signatures on Miria’s nomination papers, did not tally with the voters’ registration numbers. The UPC leader is to re-appear at 12:00. Only Besigye, who did not turn up because he remains on remand in Luzira Prisons, satisfied the EC. “By virtue of the powers conferred upon me, I declare retired Colonel Dr Kizza Besigye Kifefe, a duly nominated presidential candidate for the 2006 presidential elections,� Chairman Badru Kiggundu said at 12:15p.m., attracting applause from the 20 FDC officials present. They included his wife Winnie Byanyima, FDC deputy president Sam Njuba, Secretary General Alice Alaso, Organizing Secretary Mugisha Muntu, party envoy Beti Kamya and spokesman Wafula Oguttu, among others.

The central chair, on which the FDC leader would have sat, was left unoccupied. A campaign poster of a smiling Besigye and an FDC cap were pinned on the chair.

Besigye’s nomination papers were signed by 4,600 registered voters from all the 76 districts of Uganda. Party officials were ecstatic about Besigye’s nomination. “I am very excited that retired Colonel Kizza Besigye who is a prisoner, will, come the March elections, defeat Museveni who travels in planes and has all the freedom,� said Byanyima.

Maj. Gen. Muntu said they had leapt over one of the “major hurdlesâ€? in Uganda’s democratization process and “we can now see a bright future for campaigns aheadâ€?. The mood in Ssebaana’s camp was far from ecstatic after the EC chairman told them some of their papers did not measure up to the requirements. 

 TOUGH BEGINNING: DP President Ssebaana Kizito and wife Christine leave the venue dejected after failing to be nominated. Photo by John Nsimbe  “The best advice is that this party goes and rectifies this problem by 10 O’clock tomorrow,â€? Kiggundu said. “Brothers and sisters of the oldest party you still have some work to do. No one shall be given special treatment in this exercise. Thank you for your effort.â€?

On hearing this, a somber looking Ssebaana flanked by his wife, former DP chief Paul Ssemogerere, party chairman Joseph Mukiibi and Hajji Ali Serunjogi, among others, stood to leave. According to the EC, DP failed to raise the required number of signatures from the districts of Kapchorwa, Soroti (96) and Tororo (91). The party carried signatures from 47 districts, according to EC.

DP officials argued that the problem arose from the recent district demarcations. “This has especially been characteristic of neighboring districts,� said Secretary General Ebil Ottoo.

UPC’s Miria Obote did not make it to the nomination venue after party officials were told at the EC headquarters that their papers were not in order.

UPC Spokesman Joseph Ochieno said, “We are extremely disappointed that our candidate was not able to get nominated because of what we think is the incompetence of the EC.�

He said the Commission had not got accurate details of voters, such as districts, especially in the wake of the recent creation of new districts. Some voters who registered in different areas had signed other districts on the nomination papers. “We are proceeding to correct this and by the end of business today, we shall have enough signatures,� Ochieno said. “We hope there is no foul play.�

Earlier in the day, Mr. Erias Ssegujja Wamala of the National Peasants Party, who arrived first at 10:40am, was turned away for failing to raise the required nomination fees of Shs. 8 million alongside the 100 signatures from at least two-thirds of the 76 districts in the country. Wamala’s agents presented only Shs 460,000. But that was not Wamala’s only undoing, as he did not show up with the required signatures and relevant papers. He had asked another group of his supporters to drop them off at the EC headquarters along Jinja Road instead of the nomination venue at Namboole.

Efforts to call this group to Namboole in time were futile. A crest fallen Wamala was asked to “sort himself out� and return today. More drama was yet to unfold before the assembled electoral commissioners when an independent candidate known as Apostle Big Ben Seninde arrived for nomination alone. He had neither the required signatures nor the money. Seninde told journalists that his understanding of an independent candidate was that he comes unaccompanied.

EC Secretary Rwakoojo burst into laughter when Ms Stella Nambuya of the Republican Women and Youth Party, announced to the commissioners that the Shs8 million fee they had collected was grabbed by robbers at gunpoint the night before at their headquarters in Kampala.

“Here is some Shs3 million that we have brought to show that we seriously intend to contest,� she said. “Chairman sir, I beg for your mercy but you can see how politics and democracy has started with robbers,� she added.

Kiggundu asked her to go back and return only after fulfilling the requirements.

“While I would love to see you go through, the law must be upheld,� he said.

“The most honorable way you walked in must be the same honorable way you walk out,� he said. Jackson Mulumba Tumwine, the party presidential candidate, said they would do whatever it takes to find the money.

“We are on a tight rope but we are going to do our best,� he said. “Members are going to do the needful.� Enter the Uganda Economic Party, led by Mr. James Wantante. After introducing the candidate, one of the party officials said they had only signatures from 39 districts, which is below the minimum 46.

They too were advised to go back and gather more signatures from the remaining seven districts and return today. They were also granted the option of leaving the non-refundable Shs8 million fee and the already acquired signatures but they rejected the advice.

“Mr. Chairman,� a party official said, “I withdraw everything I have brought and book for tomorrow.� The commissioners and observers almost choked with laughter.

Talking to Daily Monitor after the closure of the first day of the exercise, EC Secretary Rwakoojo said, “People failing to gather support shows that there were some people who were ill-prepared, which is unfortunate.� Nominations continue today. President Museveni is scheduled to be nominated in the afternoon.

Source: The Daily Monitor, Uganda, www.monitor.co.ug

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