The days when Ugandans would fret over the specter of violence on account of electoral contestation are truly over, saya President Museveni.
By Moses Walubiri
The days when Ugandans would fret over the specter of violence on account of electoral contestation are truly over, President Yoweri Museveni said Saturday.
During this year's national prayer breakfast at Kololo, Museveni, in reaction to a pastoral letter in which religious leaders cautioned political actors against acts that might foment violence, assured Ugandans of peaceful polls.
"What happened in Kenya cannot happen in Uganda. I can assure you that. Anyone who tries that will be smashed completely," Museveni said to cheering and clapping from a huge audience.
"We are acutely aware of what happened to our neighbours in Kenya. National solidarity should supersede political party interests," Archbishop Church of Uganda, Stanley Ntagali, had earlier noted in a pastoral letter sanctioned by the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda.
With Uganda set to hold general elections early next year, the prayers were held under the banner of interceding for peaceful polls at Kololo airstrip, with organizers being careful to make the function non-partisan in character.
However, although invitation had been to all opposition party leaders, only Gen. Mugisha Muntu and Betty Kamya – party presidents of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA) respectively - graced the function.
President Museveni and his wife Janet arrive for the national prayers for peaceful elections. (Credit: Roderick Ahimbazwe)
Here, President Museveni greets Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga and other members of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) at Kololo. (Credit: Roderick Ahimbazwe)
Citing a number of electoral laws that have been enacted to regulate the electoral process, Museveni blamed the problems besetting Uganda's elections to failure to implement these laws. And this failure, Museveni averred, is due to failure by Ugandans to report those breaking these laws.
"Electoral laws prohibit the use of sectarian language, bribing voters and telling outrageous lies. One can be arrested and, if it's a candidate, be disqualified. If we took the bother to report these people to police, we would not need to come here to pray about this," Museveni said.
However, the highlight of the function was a special prayer by the First Lady, Janet Museveni, who in a powerful prayer dedicated Uganda into God's hands.
Uganda has never had a peaceful transfer of power through polls, with the one conducted in 1980, spawning a guerilla war that brought the NRM government to power in January 1986.
Former FDC leader, Dr. Kiiza Besigye, contested the 2001 and 2006 polls in the Supreme Court, alleging massive vote bribing, ballot stuffing and intimidation of his supporters by security agents.
And in both cases, although court held that the polls had not been free and fair, the elections were not overturned since the malpractices did not have a substantial effect on the final results.
Uganda can''t experience election violence - Museveni