Voice of America (Washington, DC)

2 June 2014

Uganda Opposition Figure Calls for Presidential Term Limit

The former leader of Uganda's main opposition party -- Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) -- said any political survey done in Uganda should be viewed with some suspicion because Ugandans do not have the freedom to freely express their political views.

However, Kizza Besigye said Ugandans have been unanimous since 1995 on the question of presidential term limit. This comes after a new opinion poll conducted by the Ugandan Daily Monitor newspaper found that 77 percent of Ugandans prefer the re-instatement of presidential term limit ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Besigye, who has challenged President Yoweri Museveni in three different elections since 2001, said he's never going to participate in any elections organized under Museveni, where the president is both a contestant and judge.

He said the demand for a presidential term limit is important for Ugandans because, since independence, the country has never had a peaceful transfer of power.

"The question of the desire for [a] term limit of the presidency has been entirely unanimous right from the time the 1995 constitution was made. And, you can understand why it would have such a unanimous support because Uganda, from the time it became a country, it has never had a peaceful transfer of power from one leader to another. Every leader has come into office with bombs, and every leader has departed being chased by bombs," he said.

Museveni said last month that the country's opposition would have to wait until 2056 before it can ever win the presidency. His spokesman, Ofwono Opondo, said later that the opposition has no "proper program for Uganda."

Besigye said the entire political opposition in terms of political parties and civil society organizations are all united in demanding fundamental political reforms ahead of any new election.

"We have to restructure the state in order to create independent institutions of the state that can mediate political processes, so political parties can equitably compete for power. And, unless that happens, any election is a fraud," Besigye said.

Besigye, who has challenged Museveni in three different elections since 2001, said he's never going to participate in any elections organized under Museveni, where the president is both a contestant and judge.

"I've made it abundantly clear that I will never participate in any election organized under the current regime of organizing elections where you have the incumbent, Mr. Museveni, being a contestant and a judge at the same time, where you have the military and security institutions being used to fight for the protection of the incumbent," Besigye said.

Besigye said opposition groups will gather in Kampala around June 7 to review the campaign for a free and fair election in Uganda, and take decisions on how to move forward in challenging what he calls the status quo.

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