The silence that followed the declaration of President Yoweri Museveni’s victory in last Thursday’s elections in many parts of Kampala and Wakiso districts was akin to a funeral.
Thousands and possibly millions of people, at least in the eyes of one presiding officer at one polling station in Wakiso district.
Despite unbelievable tricks that surrounded the delivery of voting materials around opposition strongholds in Wakiso, Kampala and Masaka, people braved the hot sun to cast their votes.
The United States hailed the unique patience exhibited by Ugandans on polling day and pointed out that: “numerous reports of irregularities and official conduct are deeply inconsistent with international standards and expectations for any democratic process.”
The United States’ bold statement following the conclusion of the presidential elections may have contributed to the sombre mood in the NRM camp despite Kiggundu’s declaration.
The US said: “Delays in the delivery of voting materials, reports of pre-checked ballots and vote buying, blockage of social media and excessive use of force by the police, collectively undermine the integrity of the electoral process.”
Other international election observers concluded that the presidential elections were anything but free and fair.
But the Electoral Commission and NRM’s Secretary General Kasule Lumumba have dismissed cries of foul by opposition sympathizers and indeed many people that they had been disenfranchised by the dirty tricks.
The FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye appealed to the international community to join him in his quest to have the Electoral body respect the will of the people and reverse the declaration of Yoweri Museveni. So far this call remains in vain.
The heavy military deployment across major towns has succeeded in suppressing anger across Kampala, Wakiso and other urban centres. But FDC President Gen. Mugisha Muntu insists that FDC’s victory was stolen.
Indeed many supporters of the ruling NRM government have dismissed talk of rigging and have described the originators of this resentment as bad losers, angry people.
But the voter turn-out in this week’s District Council elections has greatly vindicated Besigye and his supporters as hundreds and possibly thousands of voters this time preferred to stay away from polling, allegedly because the powers that be have determined that people power does not count after all.
As pointed out by one Steven Godfrey Buule, one of Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago’s polling agents in Central Division, many people across Kampala are angry that their constitutional right to choose their leaders had been abused during last week’s presidential elections.
“People are not satisfied with last week’s declaration. They were demoralised by Kiggundu’s announcement,” says Buule.
The continued house arrest of Besigye continues to attract condemnation from across human rights groups but is also helping to strengthen the belief that the government carried out a coup.
Whereas President Museveni wagged a guerilla rebellion on the basis of losing an election in 1980, Besigye and his supporters are largely opting to stick with the peaceful option of using non-military means such as going to courts of law to demand that their victory be reinstated.
It remains to be seen if their wish will be granted.