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COVER STORY: Hoima and 2021 election battles

Different ways opposition plans to force Museveni out of power

Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | Even after the Electoral Commission announced that their candidate had lost the recent by-election for Hoima District Woman MP, the opposition insists they won. Unlike in the past when the opposition rushed to court to attempt to nullify such results, by press time they were yet to decide on that. Instead most of them told The Independent that they are focusing on 2021.

Kyadondo East MP Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine who led the opposition campaign was reflective. He said that the victory of the Hoima people was stolen by President Yoweri Museveni and his rigging machinery.

“While I understand their disappointment and sadness, I am encouraging them to hold fort-this is only temporary,” he said, “Our role is to reflect, reorganise, and do everything we need to do while trusting God…remain strong while believing in yourself.”  Expert election watchers hearing this are saying that based on the Hoima experience and results, the 2021 is not going to be an easy election for either the opposition or President Yoweri Museveni.

“What happened in Hoima is what awaits the country in 2021,” said Ibrahim Semujju Nganda, the FDC spokesperson at the Party’s weekly press conference on Sept.30 in Kampala.

Semujju told journalists that the NRM used state resources – vehicles, money, security agencies (UPDF) and public servants, which is illegal under election laws.

Semujju displayed photocopies of pre-ticked ballot papers that were in favour of the NRM candidate and read out the number plate of the vehicle that was used to transport the ballots. He also displayed pictures of a UPDF official who he said helped in vote rigging.

He said one of their own; Michael Kabaziguruka (the MP for Nakawa constituency) fought with the NRM rigging machinery and confiscated 51 pre-ticked ballot papers which he later on handed over to the IEC officials.

Semujju said the party would officially write to the EC about the observed electoral malpractices.

The Hoima seat fell vacant after the former district woman MP Tophace Byagira Kaahwa decided to cross and represent the newly created Kikuube district.

Asanansi Nyakato Kabanda ran on the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket but she was backed by almost all opposition parties under the People Power umbrella.

All opposition forces united and worked together from August 29 when campaigns started to polling day on Sept.26.

Popular names – Dr. Kizza Besigye, the former FDC Presidential Candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine), the Kyadondo East Member of Parliament and People Power head, Patrick Amuriat Oboi, the FDC President, Gen. Mugisha Muntu from the Alliance for National Transformation party and other opposition leaders were on the ground to canvass support for Nyakato Kabanda.

They faced off with President Museveni and a number of his cadres campaigned for the NRM candidate Harriet Businge aka ‘baby face’.

Rigging allegations

Museveni campaigned for Businge basing on the NRM programmes in Hoima which is the new oil hinterland of Uganda. Museveni said in Hoima, the government has reduced poverty levels and boosted economic activities. He pointed at about 300km of new road networks that the government has built and electricity lines and social services in health and education that have been extended to Hoima.

He said the opposition claim that the NRM government has done nothing is “a big shame but it is good for the NRM”.

“You cannot dissolve a road, a power line or a school by lies,” he said, “You only dissolve yourself politically by lies and that is what will happen to the so-called opposition, working for foreign interests that we know well and will expose at the right time.”

When the EC announced the results at 03:30am on Friday Sept. 27, the NRM candidate Businge had won with 33, 301 votes (53.63%). According to the EC results Nyakato polled 28, 789 votes (46.37%).

The opposition immediately dismissed the EC results. They alleged there were election malpractices which compromised the legitimacy of the results and the entire exercise.

“There is every indicator to show that Nyakato won but the regime machinery affected the result,” Alice Alaso, the national coordinator in charge of finance and administration at the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), a newly formed political party, told The Independent.

But Museveni shot back, alleging that it is the opposition that rigged. In a public statement in the media, Museveni said he doubted the number of votes the opposition candidate got were genuine.

“We are auditing the voting to discover the cheating which is characteristic of the opposition (Jinja, Bugiri, Arua, etc),” Museveni said.

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