Monday, February 20, 2006

Multiparty Elections in Uganda

Come Thursday, February 23, Ugandans will get to elect a new President and Members of Parliament. Despite the myriad of controversies this election has generated, it still bears some relevance and speaks to the hocus pocus in Nigerian political arena.

As I wrote last year November, "President Obasanjo administration has less than 2 years to go, yet the political terrain is still murky and it is unclear whom the likely successors would be" this is because there is a strong push for an unconstitutional third term, which the Nigerian President has yet to fully deny.

Here are some interesting facts in the upcoming elections in Uganda:

Dr Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change will be on the ballot despite his ordeal at the hands of the ruling party government of Yoweri Museveni. Kizza has had to contend with numerous legal issues stemming from the charges of treason, terrorism and rape leveled against him by the government. It is interesting to note that a poll showed Dr Besigye leading over Yoweri Museveni in three of the country's five regions.
"The run-up to the presidential elections has been dominated by protracted legal proceedings, and at one point it looked possible that he might be disqualified from standing - or even in prison on polling day. But although not yet cleared of all charges, Dr Besigye is still in the running."-- BBC.
This election is also the first multiparty elections since 1980, and features an exceptionally high numbers of independent candidates. These are encouraging given the notion that a multiparty system encourages sectarian violence. The fact is violence has been kept to a minimal in Uganda.

"A strong opposition is healthy for the thriving of democracy...One of the remarkable things about these elections is the large number of independents. It is not surprising that there have been a big number of independents at all levels. In a way this is the direct consequence of the ‘individual merit’ system that has been in place for the past two decades." --The New Vision
I hope elections go well in Uganda. I also hope that President Obasanjo of Nigeria is watching the events there. It's about a year to the next election in Nigeria, yet there aren't any signs of a viable opposition to the People's Democratic Party, the ruling party in Nigeria, the party of President Obasanjo. To even think of independent candidates/parties at this stage is a pure fantasy.

All eyes are on Nigeria and we'll all get to see what's in Obasanjo's bag of hocus pocus.