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Opposition discusses joint candidates

By Vision Reporter

Added 5th August 2009 03:00 AM

KIZA Besigye or Olara Otunnu, who will be the opposition presidential flag-bearer come 2011 general elections?

KIZA Besigye or Olara Otunnu, who will be the opposition presidential flag-bearer come 2011 general elections?

By Madinah Tebajjukira

KIZA Besigye or Olara Otunnu, who will be the opposition presidential flag-bearer come 2011 general elections?

The issue was among many which the main opposition parties debated at their ongoing meeting being held at the Paradise Hotel Jinja.

The final decision on this and other wide-ranging proposals, which are intended to give the opposition victory, will be announced at the end of the talks tomorrow, an official said.

Generally, the parties want agreement on the possibility of fielding joint presidential, parliamentary and local council candidates in an attempt to improve their chances to beat the NRM, which has won the last two presidential elections.

The opposition talks are being held under its umbrella organisation, the Inter-Party Cooperation. The group brings together the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), JEEMA and the Conservative Party (CP). CP chief John Ken Lukyamuzi heads the cooperation.

Lukyamuzi said “20 Generals” drawn from all the cooperators were working round the clock to hammer out an agreement by tomorrow.

A source quoted the ‘generals’ as urging the meeting to choose between Prof. Olara Otunnu of UPC and FDC’s Col. Kizza Besigye for the presidential seat.

The ‘generals’, according to the source, said Otunnu would bring an international flavour to the elections, unlike Besigye whom they reportedly accused of being emotional and fighting “personal” wars with President Yoweri Museveni. Besigye denies this.

Olara Otunnu was once a minister in Okello Lutwa’s shortlived regime, which overthrew the Obote II government.

He also worked with the UN. Besigye, on his part, has twice lost to Museveni, first in 2001 and again in 2006.

By press time, sources said the ‘20 generals’ had resolved to field joint candidates for all elective positions right from the grassroots.

Lukyamuzi, however, said these recommendations were yet to be passed. “I cannot confirm now what they have agreed until tomorrow after a plenary session,” he said.

At the end of the three-day retreat, the ‘generals’ are expected to have come up with a report to be submitted to the cooperation.

The idea of fielding joint candidates has been for long pushed by FDC. However, some UPC members, JEEMA and CP strongly opposed it on grounds that they would be “swallowed” once the proposal was approved.

But a source at the retreat said this obstacle had apparently been overcome.

Accordingly, each party will elect a candidate to contest at a joint delegates conference of the cooperating parties, to be held before the end of this year.

“It’s the delegates conference which will choose our flag-bearers from candidates chosen by each party,” the source said.

Other sources at the retreat said the “generals” will be sent to Sweden and the UK for training in checking election rigging and militarism during campaign.

The timetable for the elections is already out although the electoral commission says it has yet to get all the funding it requires to hold free and fair polls.

Diplomats have also expressed concern about the delay in implementing programmes such as civic education and voter registry update.

The opposition parties have also called for electoral reforms which they say would ensure free and fair elections.

The President has, however, ruled this out.

Opposition discusses joint candidates

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