Chaos as Museveni seeks another mandate

The Ruling National Resistance Movement, NRM, starts an elective General Assembly today at the Nelson Mandela National stadium, amidst chaos.

The assembly was postponed last week by the party Secretary General, Amama Mbabazi to pave way for the Uganda Cranes game against Palancas Negras of Angola on Saturday. Uganda Cranes had a comfortable 3-0 win.

By midday on Monday delegates were still lined up to register with some claiming that their names are missing on the register. The situation was made worse by a morning downpour that messed everything.

Delegates could be seen running from one gate to another to establish a point where they could be registered while others had resorted to a waiting game saying that nothing seemed to go through.

The party organized nationwide primary elections for the first time under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni since 1986. Elections in some areas failed to take off citing leakage of ballot papers, rigging, stuffing of ballot boxes and reported printing of ballots by candidates. This prompted the party to reschedule elections twice and in other areas thrice.

Elections in 33 districts had to be pushed from Monday to Saturday last week as reports of pre-ticked ballots, stolen ballots, intimidation, physical assault and disenfranchisement surfaced in many areas.

But in places like Kampala Central, the elections were cancelled for the second time because the ballot papers had reportedly leaked on Friday, while there were late electoral material arrivals in Mityana and Masaka.

NRM insiders blame the chaos on what they term a hurried shift from electoral colleges to adult suffrage in electing party flag bearers.

Simon D’ujanga, the Minister of State for Energy, who lost his bid to secure the NRM ticket to defend his Okoro County parliamentary seat in next year’s elections said last week that that “everything was a sham.”

An NRM delegates’ conference amended the party constitution in 2009, introducing adult suffrage as a system of picking its candidates at the urging of its leader, President Museveni. The old electoral college system was blamed for the rampant allegations of rigging and the resulting independent candidates. 

Kiiza Besigye who has lost twice to president Museveni in 2002 and 2006 hasalways disputed Museveni’s win on accusations of rigging. While talking to the press today in Kampala, Besigye explained that such a scenario was expected of what he termed a “rotting” party.

National elections are expected in 2011 with nominations in October and November 2010.