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Does Museveni have what it takes to win a 7th presidential term in office?

Uganda is expected to hold the third multi-party election on 18 February 2016 with 15,294,070 registered voters set to cast their votes.

This year’s presidential poll has attracted eight candidates and the voters will vote for the President, Parliament and local government seats.

According to Uganda’s constitution, there are no term limits on presidential candidates and the incumbent president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni will be running for his seventh term on National Resistance Movement (NRM) ticket. NRM is the ruling political party in Uganda. His long term rival and former personal doctor, Kizza Besigye is not relenting.  Dr. Besigye will be running for a fourth time on the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket, founded on 16 December 2004.

Other challengers include former prime minister Amama Mbabazi on Go Forward party, Abed Bwanika on People’s Development Party, Benon Biraaro –  Uganda Farmers Party (UFP), Venansius Baryamureeba,Joseph Mabirizi and Faith Kyalya will be vying as Independent candidates.

Previous election

In the last election in 2011, the NRM party won 259 obtaining an outright majority in the National assembly. Members of the Parliament of Uganda are elected in single-member constituencies using first-past-the-post voting.  A number of seats are reserved for female candidates.

The previous parliament (9th Parliament of Uganda) had 375 seats and in mid 2015 the Parliament of Uganda approved 43 out of the 65 proposed new constituencies. This brings the number of available seats to 418 for the 10th Parliament.

Historic presidential debate

Uganda held its first televised presidential debate in history on Friday 15th January 2016.

The presidential debate was attended by all presidential aspirants, except the incumbent president Yoweri Museveni failed to appear for the debate. Topics such as Uganda’s growing national debt, corruption, education and job creation were at the center of all candidates’ manifestos.

The Second presidential debate is expected to be held on 12 February 2016.

Executive Director of Uganda Media Centre and deputy spokesperson of the National Resistance Movement Party Ofwono Opondo  states in his articles that there was no need for Museveni to participate in the first public debate. He says the debate was sponsored by Western donor groups to embarrass President Museveni.

‘’The presidential debate, supposedly for this Friday, January 15, 2016, which many doubt will take place is a political ruse unilaterally organised by a consortium of the so-called civil society groups of ‘religious’ leaders, ‘elders’ forum, section of the media and sponsored by Western donor groups to embarrass President Museveni’’.

‘’In my view, President Museveni should politely turn down the invitation and not to participate because there is no value addition in it. He should instead, spend that valuable time engaging more with the grassroots voters, who are the voters and primary stakeholders in this election.’’ Writes  Ofwono Opondo 

According to Ofwono the debate would just provide a forum for Museveni to shine again against his opponents.

‘’So, in the much hyped public presidential debate being mooted, there would be no valid reason why he shouldn’t participate, because it would most likely give him an opportunity to wash out some of his critics, particularly the boisterous Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi.’’

Ofwono states that  President Yoweri Museveni is always his own man, courageous, very knowledgeable and adroit with facts and figures and, therefore, can take on anybody, anywhere, anytime and even on multiple fronts in a public policy debate.

Museveni’s strength in 2016 elections

Yoweri Museveni has ruled Uganda for 30 years, longer than any of his counterparts in eastern Africa. No one doubts that he will win 18 February parliamentary and presidential elections. But at what cost?

In the past election and at public forums Museveni has declared his prowess against the key challengers Besigye and Mbabazi.

“There will be no revolution here, because there is nobody who can use extra-constitutional means to take power here,” he told a final news conference ahead of polling day in 2011.

By then Museveni said his security forces were ready to deal with violence.

Different sources indicate his regime had mobilized the state machinery in order to strike down any possible protests. More than 50,000 police were deployed throughout the country. Over 100,000 so-called “crime fighters” were trained during the previous poll

‘’ Should rioters take to the streets, the government had a solution, Museveni said.

“Very simple, just lock them up,” he said. “In as humane a manner as possible, bundle them into jails. And that will be the end of the story.”

His strategies are also geared towards the youth, the majority in Uganda.

In the previous elections in 2006, Besigye won 37 percent of the votes. Museveni got 59 percent.

Museveni won a little more than 68 percent of the eight million votes cast, the electoral commission said.Feb 21, 2011

An overwhelming majority of Ugandans say their favourite candidate is President Yoweri Museveni, according to the latest New Vision opinion poll.

The Vision Group research team conducted an opinion poll between June 12 and June 20, 2015 covering 6,626 households countrywide.

Other pollsters indicate President Museveni is Uganda’s most popular politician going into the 2016 presidential election, two opinion polls carried out in a space of 12 months by Research World International indicate. But a deeper scrutiny of the two polls show that Museveni’s support could be dropping as the election date draws closer.

According to the two opinion polls, Museveni’s support has fallen by nine per cent over the past one year. His current ratings stand at 55 per cent, down from 64 per cent the president recorded in a similar poll last year.

The latest opinion poll was conducted by Research World International and funded by NTV Uganda, Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform and Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies.

Among the reasons being advanced for the drop in ratings is the fact that about 78 per cent of the polled respondents were in the rural areas, which have previously voted overwhelmingly for the president.

Campaigns

The electoral commission kicked off campaigns on November 9 and ends on February 16, two days before the polls.

With the two main opposition candidates being influential former members of the ruling party, critics say they struggle to offer a convincing alternative or to effectively criticise a system they created and benefitted from.

Mbabazi has claimed the election race will be “the most wide-open race in our political history”.

But Museveni 71, who has led the East African nation since 1986, and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) is widely expected to return to power.

 

Wamoyi . M.M., AfricanQuarters

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