By Brian Mayanja
A total of 30,000 Ugandans, out of about 200,000 living in the US, are expected to participate in the November 6 US presidential elections.
Most of the Ugandans who are eligible to vote in the elections are in Boston, California, New York and New Jersey states, according to the Uganda North American Association (UNAA) president, Kizza Seninde.
For any foreigner to vote in the US, they must first get American citizenship, be above 18 years of age and registered as voters.
UNAA is the largest formal association of Ugandans living in the US, Canada and North America.
Seninde, the husband of RoseMary Seninde, the Wakiso Woman MP, said this time, the number of voters had increased, compared to that of 2008. He said in 2008, there were about 15,000 voters.
The US presidential contest, which has put the whole world on tension, is between the Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama, the incumbent and Mitt Romney, a Republican and the former Massachusetts governor.
Seninde said although some UNAA members were actively involved in campaigns, the association is not a partisan group.
Seninde explained that Ugandans supporting Obama think once he is re-elected, he will be able to address critical issues that affect Africa and other third world countries.
“We think his first term was not enough. He inherited some problems which needed urgent attention. Ever since he took over, international politics has changed. USA has been in fights with countries like China, which want to dominate world market. There is also Middle East politics.
So, Obama did not get time to analyse problems affecting Africa. Now, since he has managed to solve some of the problems, in his second term he will focus on third world countries,” Ssenidde explained.
Abbey Walusimbi, the NRM chairperson in California, said some African-Americans are soliciting votes for Obama by networking and conducting door-to-door campaigns.
“I took leave at my work place, so that I would concentrate more on soliciting votes for Obama. After the elections, I will report back to work,’ he said.
Walusimbi said other issues, which have also attracted the attention in the presidential race, is the debate on the reduction of interest rates on students’ loans and the promise to give local businessmen incentives to grow their businesses.
Obama has promised to cut interest on student loans from 10% to 5%. Prossy Nakimuli, former student of Uganda Christian University, Mukono and now a student at New Orleans University, said after Obama announced the reduction, her group joined the team that is vigorously campaigning for him. “Students’ loan is a serious issue here. Some of my colleagues have been struggling hard to pay the interests,” Nakimuli said.
Ronald Lwanga, an exporter and a resident in Boston, said most businessmen associate with the manifesto for the democrats because it promises incentives.
Voting has already started in some states, ahead of the official November 6 polling day. In 2008, a total of 122.3m Americans, representing 54% of the total population voted.
In 2004, the voter turnup was 22.2 million, according to the New York Times newspaper. Projections indicate that this year’s elections may register even higher turnouts.