Uganda Opposition Leader, Otunnu, Says Gen. Museveni's Vote-Buying Spree Shows Desperation

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Olara Otunnu

Uganda’s dictator of 29 years of un-interrupted rule, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, moves about buying votes ahead of next year’s election, with bags and envelopes of money because he is not confident of winning a “free and fair” election in Uganda.

The charges were leveled during a recent news conference by Dr. Olara Otunnu, the former U.N. Under-Secretary General who leads the Uganda People's Congress.

“If he had confidence, he would not be moving now with bags and thick envelopes buying voters ahead of next year’s election. This is the first time in history of the world where a sitting president moves about buying voters in this manner. Why would he use tax-payers money like this?” says Otunnu.

He was responding to a journalist’s question about whether he believes that Museveni would still be president after next year’s general election.

“Without being a prophet, I know the answer already. There is no way Museveni can win, a free and fair election. This is clear. We shall pack his things from State House Entebbe and take them to his retirement home of Rwakitura after such a free and fair election.”

Dr. Otunnu says he left his job in 2010 at the UN headquarters in New York and returned to Uganda without a passport because of the way Gen. Museveni had destroyed the country.

“I could not bear to watch from the sidelines, the suffering of our people. There was comprehensive brokenness in all walks of life. There was corruption everywhere. I decided to join hands with my compatriots to liberate Uganda from the jaws of Museveni” says Otunnu.

He says President Museveni is delaying to effect electoral reforms ahead of next year’s election because he wants to make cosmetic changes.

“We have proposed electoral reforms but to date there is no response from government. He is planning to make cosmetic changes and do sham exercise. We shall not accompany him in a sham exercise,” he says.

The former U.N. Diplomat says the best way to remove Museveni is for all those forces who are opposed to his rule to come together and form a “social movement.”

“This is a gathering of patriotic forces across political affiliations. It is not a new political party. It is togetherness of the opposition parties, NGOs and CSOs. We shall make democratic changes possible if all patriotic people who feel the pain come together,” says Dr. Otunnu. He says a small percentage of leaders of his UPC party was dinning with Gen. Museveni on the same table and are planning to let Museveni lead UPC by "proxy."

He also pointed to factions, including one led by Hon. Jimmy Akena, a member of Parliament and son of the late former UPC leader and founding father Milton Obote. He says the group filed a case against his leadership in the courts, which placed an injunction on all party activities including rejuvenating the party structures at grassroots. He says although he does not intend to renew his mandate to lead UPC, that he will make sure he exposes the leaders who are dining with Gen. Museveni when the Delegates meet. “We shall expose all those who have been working for Museveni-those tools of Museveni. We shall decide soon, who future leaders of UPC will be. Let us resist Museveni until we remove him from power.”

UPC has been involved in internal wrangles since Dr. Otunnu assumed its helm in 2010 pitting the UPC members of parliament, led by Hon. Jimmy Akena, against his leadership.

Dr. Otunnu however downplays the alleged ethnic sentiments behind the split being peddled by some people.  “It has never crossed my mind to say that this is the Langi doing this to me," he says referring to Hon. Akena's ethnic group. "If we continue to peddle that line, we shall be sinking deeper and deeper and it will be Museveni to benefit from the mess.”

Otunnu made his comments on March 26 during a press conference in Gulu town.



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