Museveni warns Besigye against holding parallel tallying centre

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni addressing a public rally

Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has warned the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate Kizza Besigye against holding a parallel tallying centre during the February 18th polls.

Addressing National Resistance Movement (NRM) delegates on Tuesday, Museveni said only the Electoral Commission (EC) is mandated to hold tallying centres and announce results adding that any move by opposition candidates in such effect is tantamount to utter defiance of the law.

“Besigye should be advised that Uganda is not Ivory Coast, neither is it Kenya. We will not allow him to hold a parallel tallying centre to the one held by the Electoral Commission (EC),” said the National Resistance Movement flag-bearer.

“Besigye should know that this is a country led by people who have fought in wars. If he goes ahead with his plan to have a parallel tallying centre, then he will be imprisoned.”

The President’s utterances came amid a wave of defiance by opposition candidates led by Besigye and Amama Mbabazi against stringent regulations announced by the EC.

In separate press briefings on Tuesday, the two opposition candidates called on their supporters to defy orders by the EC barring them from carrying mobile phones and cameras to the polling stations saying there in no law that prohibits the same.

“EC’s call prohibiting voters from carrying mobile phones to polling stations is suspect and shows they have something to hide,” said Mbabazi.

“I urge my supporters to go to polling stations with their phones and record any suspicious activities going on.”

Besigye, in his briefing, said: “On election day, you should go to the polling stations in the morning, do not wait until the afternoon, vote then stay there to protect your votes. Use your phones to record and share any suspicious acts in the stations.”

Besigye has over the last weeks accused the government of working in cohort with the EC to rig the elections issuing a stern warning against such moves.

In his speech on Monday, the FDC candidate said he had no faith in the EC adding that he will not accept results of an unfair election.

Similar sentiments have been made by Mbabazi who said the country needs free and fair elections.

Mbabazi, who is running as an independent candidate, has also called on police to practice restrain in handling of party supporters and show impartiality in the execution of their mandate.

The contest pitting eight candidates has been described by political pundits as the fiercest in Uganda’s political history and will offer a litmus test to Museveni’s popularity, likability and ability to command a following in the rather politically-mild country.

While Mbabazi is making his first shot at the presidency, Besigye has lost in the past three attempts and will be seeking to capture the seat in the February 18th polls.

Museveni has exuded confidence in winning the polls, though saying he will relinquish power if he loses.

The 59-year-old has blamed his past loses to rigging and use of force by Museveni and has vowed not to accept the results if the election is marred by malpractices.

On Monday, Besigye was arrested while he tried to access the venue of his rally before he was released and put under house arrest. This sparked unrest in Kampala leading to skirmishes that left one person killed and others injured.

The campaigns came to an end on Tuesday with the country now preparing for the presidential elections slated for Thursday.


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Story By Benjamin Wafula
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