22 February 2016

Uganda: Museveni Defends NRM Victory, Dismisses Rigging Allegations

Rwakitura — President Museveni yesterday dismissed Opposition claims of massive rigging and poll fraud in the run up to Saturday's declaration by the Electoral Commission that he had won the 2016 polls with 60.8 per cent of the total votes cast.

Addressing his maiden press conference at his country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura District a day after he was declared winner, Mr Museveni said: "Anyone trying to challenge the results of the elections must not be serious...that's rubbish".

Mr Museveni, 71, reasoned that if there was rigging, he wouldn't have lost in Kampala and Wakiso districts, which overwhelmingly voted opposition party Forum for Democratic Change candidate Dr Kizza Besigye, whose party has since rejected the outcome of the February 18, poll outcomes.

FDC insists they will not recognise Mr Museveni's victory, and is calling for an international audit of the results (see related story on P.6).

Mr Museveni, who was still revering in his victory yesterday, said he lost votes in Kampala, the capital, because of the work of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) executive director Jennifer Musisi.

Mr Museveni said whereas re-organising the city was good for order, the problem was that there was no adequate sensitisation and provision of alternatives for the affected people.

Mr Museveni also promised that Uganda will become a middle income country under his stewardship in the next five years.

He said he had found that some Chinese nationals who were running an industry in Mukono had run out of the country thinking that there would be chaos. However, he assured the country there would be no chaos under his regime.

Mr Museveni, who has been credited for stabilising Uganda, has had relative challenges in terms of economic growth due to the weakening Shilling, which in his briefing, said was a result of Ugandans wiring money to outside countries.

"I said no one will destabilise Uganda during and after elections... In the next five years Opposition will be wiped out. They are taking advantage of internal weaknesses. I know they are liars," he said.

He hailed the Electoral Commission for doing a good job saying: "I want to thank the EC for struggling with this big job which was not easy. I insisted on using electronic finger print readers. And I am glad it worked. I was being intimidated that this will not work, I insisted," which he said had eliminated multiple voting and that he would in the next five years, if resources allow, work on the full computerisation of voting.

"What I would want to work towards is full computerisation of the voting, where by one would only need a finger print to vote. That will totally eliminate any games," said Mr Museveni.

On voting

I want to thank the people of Uganda who turned up in big numbers and decided their future for the next five years. I think 10 million people turned up to vote. Some had to wait for many hours.

I have not found out from the Electoral Commission why there were delays in the areas near Kampala but I know they normally start with distant areas and end with the ones nearer. I don't know why they never timed it well this time.

I want to thank the EC for struggling with this big job which was not easy. I insisted on using electronic fingerprint readers. And I am glad it worked. I was being intimidated that it will not work but I insisted.

This is what I have been fighting for the last 53 years. The elections we had in 1962, which were full of mistakes, especially rigging, were around the problem of either someone voting more than once, or people who were not supposed to vote like the underage voting.

Therefore, all these years I have been struggling to get rid of that. We didn't vote from 1962 we only voted again in 1980, and I brought it up at that time they did not accept it. When we started voting in 1993 for the CA, we didn't have the money (to do... ) we made other reforms... ... like counting immediately after polling and announcing the results.

All those were reforms we made in 1993; but there was this problem of ensuring that it is one person one vote. That's where democracy is. If you interfere with that, if I can vote twice then there is no democracy. What I would want to work towards is full computerisation of the voting process, where by one would only need a finger print to vote. That will totally eliminate any games.

On retiring:

We shall follow the Constitution of Uganda. But I would not want to encourage you to be worried about the who, because this is part of your problem. You are always worried about the who... instead of the what. Why don't you worry about the what?... ..whether Museveni retires or not. Museveni has no problem retiring. As you can see, I have got where to retire to and I did not need a job. Even in the first place, I have never needed a job.

Why? Because I have one here. What involves us in politics is not the what, not the who. In 1971, I was employed in the president's office, when Amin came to power, I resigned. I went to fight Amin. Why? Not because of the who but because of the what. In areas like Kabale, you should be worried about the problem of land fragmentation instead you are worried of when Museveni will die, when will Museveni go. When the campaigns started some people said Museveni will die during campaigns..

On poll observers

Me I am not a joker. I am dealing with a pre-industrial, a pre capitalist society. I am telling you people moving from traditional to commercial farming.

Why do I spend time on that? In Europe, they moved from traditional to commercial 300 years ago, so when we are engaged in a struggle to liberate our people, I don't need lectures from anybody.

How to organise elections? I was organising elections at Ntare [school]. I know how to organise elections. Who can tell me about elections? I have told you the problem with elections in Uganda has been multiple voting. What level playing field are they talking about?

The radios are everywhere, I am the one who does not have a level playing field with [Daily] Monitor newspaper there. They would put Besigye on top of me. They would use a big picture of Besigye, exaggerating rallies and they shrink mine or they take a part- that [Daily] Monitor here, I have defeated them. I tried to talk to them politely, I even rang their man [His Highness] The Aga Khan and I told him I am going to defeat your traitors here. So I have defeated them.

They are just seated here in a democratic Uganda, they would even manufacture pictures, you know they would cut and add pictures so that Besigye rallies look big... ... . That [Daily] Monitor newspaper has been an opposition newspapers for a long time.

Now the headline today was 'Museveni again, Museveni tuffudde - that was the headline. But what can [Daily] Monitor do to my support? My support can be shaken by other factors. What matters is actual social economic condition of our people.

On NRM losing in Kampala City

The problem is the way Madam [executive director Jennifer] Musisi was doing the right thing by removing hawkers from the streets. But the mistake was not sensitising them, telling them why but also failing to get them alternatives.

On working with Mbabazi and Besigye

I have no problem with anybody. I am not working for myself, I am working for the country. Uganda will be a First World country in the next 30 years. I want to see Uganda as part of East African Integration... We must create an Africa centre of gravity which will guarantee our freedom and freedom of all Africans.

If these fellows Mbabazi and Besigye want to come back (I have no problem). If I can see East African integration, I would be a very happy man. I am mission oriented. I don't care about individuals... Those who were with us when they go away and fight me, I fight them. I didn't hear these people talk about East African integration, I didn't hear these people talk about unity; they say 'let him go' is that a programme for a political leader?

On ministers losing

If ministers are being defeated locally, it means they didn't have close links with the people. That's the purpose of democracy. People decide what they want.

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