Ugandan women demonstrate for fair elections

This video from Uganda says about itself:

Women from the Inter party cooperation calling themselves Women for Peace, launch a campaign they say is to save women from election rigging.

By Gerald Bareebe & Katherine Haywood, in The Monitor daily in Uganda:

Uganda: Women Stage Electoral Commission Demo at Parliament

25 February 2010

Kampala — At least 30 female opposition supporters yesterday caught security off-guard and staged a sit-down demonstration at Parliament, demanding an overhaul of the Electoral Commission.

The women used the swearing-in ceremony of the newly-elected Mbale Municipality member of Parliament, Mr Jack Wamanga Wamai, to sneak into Parliament to reiterate their demand for electoral reforms.

The demonstrators, mainly from the Inter-Party Cooperation (an umbrella organisation for the leading opposition parties), first wore blue FDC T-shirts in the Parliament chamber during the ceremony, which they then removed as they relocated to the foyer of the House to reveal the black ‘women for peace’ tops that gained popularity during their previous demonstration outside the EC last month.

The police were more restrained on this occasion, but they were present in force, with female officers matching the number of demonstrators. The women were at first silent, holding placards with slogans which read, “President Museveni, remember the reasons which took you to the bush,” and, “this is a peaceful proposal: overhaul the EC.”

A few metres away, several hundred supporters led by Budadiri West MP Nandala Mafabi and Mr Wamai taunted the government as they cheered the women’s action. This was the second time the women had mobilised against the Eng. Badru Kiggundu-led electoral team that President Museveni reappointed last year despite allegations, separately confirmed by the Supreme Court, that the 2006 election that the team oversaw was rife with irregularities.

Ms Ingrid Turinawe, the leader of the group, said similar protests will continue throughout the country until the Electoral Commission is re-constituted. “Dr Kigunddu and other commissioners must leave because the Supreme Court ruled that they are very incompetent to organise a presidential election,” Ms Turinawe said.

She also demanded the restoration of presidential term limits and the abolition of army MPs. “If we do not fight for reforms now, it will be our children who will suffer,” she said. Ms Jennifer Karungi, who travelled from Hoima District to participate in the demonstration, said; “We are tired of bloodshed in Uganda. We want peace, democracy and change. Let them [Police] come and beat us; we are here.”

The women were later surrounded by female police officers who snatched placards from their hands. The head of Parliament Police, Mr Elias Kasirabo, and Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Andrew Sorowen seemed overwhelmed by the women’s determination to resist their orders to vacate Parliament.

Mr Sorowen could not explain, when asked, how the women managed to stage a demonstration within the precinct of Parliament. After 30 minutes, it took the intervention of Mr Mafabi and Kitgumu District Woman MP Beatrice Anywar to convince the women to relocate to Kyambogo University playground, which Police designated as an alternative location for the demonstration.

Shouting and chanting, they joined six busloads of FDC supporters and others colleagues in 10 taxis as well as several private cars ostensibly to celebrate Mr Wamai’s victory.

5 thoughts on “Ugandan women demonstrate for fair elections

  1. Election marred by blatant fraud

    Tajikstan: International election monitors have said that Tajikistan’s parliamentary election was marred by widespread fraud.

    The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s election-monitoring arm said that rampant ballot-box stuffing and proxy voting took place in Sunday’s election.

    The OSCE said that state television news coverage of the campaign was minimal, limiting voters’ ability to make an informed choice.


  2. The Monitor (Kampala)

    Uganda: Why You Might Not Vote in 2011

    Sheila Naturinda

    7 March 2010

    With 10 months to Uganda’s highly anticipated 2011 general election, the political opposition has expressed fresh fears that the Electoral Commission is, by default, quietly aiding the process through which the vote could be rigged in favour of the ruling party.

    The Commission’s failure to aggressively carry out its civic education role and failure to give adequate publicity to the voter registration process lies at the heart of the renewed criticism. Other fears hinge around the confusion which could result during panic late registration, and which they say could be exploited to stuff the register with ghost voters’ names.

    A number of opposition politicians told Sunday Monitor in exclusive interviews that it is not by coincidence that the EC appears reluctant to encourage Ugandans who are of voting age to register. The politicians say this apparent reluctance in the face of the National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) ongoing, and controversial, registration of people mainly in the rural areas where the majority of the country’s 31 million people live, has attracted their attention.

    NRM target

    The NRM says it hopes to have 10 million Ugandans on its records by polling date. However, ordinary Ugandans like Mr Richard Mwebesa, a 21-year-old student at Kyambogo University who says he would like to vote in the 2011 polls, says he is still waiting for an announcement from the EC for registration.

    “I have only heard that the NRM party is registering their voters,” he says. The ruling NRM’s ongoing parallel registration of party voters, extended for another two weeks on Friday by the party chairman, President Yoweri Museveni, has overshadowed the EC national exercise and it is said the rural folk have failed to differentiate between the two.

    “It’s a deliberate confusion engineered by the NRM because even their registrars have EC voters registers,” says Wafula Oguttu, the spokesman of the leading opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

    While Mr Mwebesa could be one of the many people who do not know that the Electoral Commission exercise is supposed to be also ongoing, even those who are aware, say the fact that registration can, for now, only be done at the district headquarters is discouraging.

    This could also affect those who have since moved to other districts and are living under the illusion that since their names were captured where they were previously domiciled then there is nothing to worry about.

    Mr Oguttu says in Bugiri District, people have to trek close to 15 kilometres to reach the district headquarters to register.

    “And even for a few who turn up, there are no cameras. The EC hasn’t done enough and some people will end up not registering,” Mr Oguttu warns.

    Mr Micheal Mabikke, a Member of Parliament representing the city constituency of Makindye East, who is also a president of the opposition Social Democrats Party, says: “People are still waiting for an announcement. It’s not begun already because there is no activity at parishes.”

    In the EC’s November 2009 revised roadmap to 2011, voter registration is supposed to end slightly more than two months from today on May 15. That deadline could be missed by many who could potentially have to live the frustration that they will not be able to vote their preferred candidate in six months time.

    “The response has been in small numbers. People come in 10s and 20s,” EC Chairman Badru Kiggundu told Sunday Monitor when reached for comment.

    According to the commission’s website , “registration of voters is optional and is done on a continuous, yet voluntary basis and is open to anyone who qualifies to vote.”

    But the presence of just one register at a district returning office has become an issue that most political critics have faulted the EC.

    “The NRM registration is still confusing and the EC better comes up to advertise their exercise because LCIs are writing [the names of] everybody in the village for the NRM,” says Chua County MP Okello-Okello (UPC).

    Mr Okello expects large numbers of Ugandans to fail to register even when Eng. Kiggundu insisted there is no cause for alarm because the EC has set April 15 as the date on which they will launch countrywide updating of the voters roll.

    Mao doubtful

    This assurance, however, is not enough for Democratic Party president Norbert Mao. “The campaign by the EC to register [people] is lukewarm and many people will be left out.”

    Mr Mao’s other concern was about voters who while they will attain voting age by voting day are still not yet 18 years and are thus not allowed to register. In response to this concern, Eng. Kiggundu said: “They are in the wrong age bracket. They have to wait until they turn the recommended age to vote.”


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