Leading opposition leaders have declared that they will do everything possible to stop the government from going ahead with organising elections if its proposed reforms are not adopted by Parliament.
Former Forum for Democratic Change President Dr. Kizza Besigye, made the declaration while addressing a news conference at Katonga road in Kampala on Thursday this week.
The Opposition leaders launched what they called Citizens Reforms Now (CIREN) as a campaign in which they spelt out a raft of demands they want incorporated into the government’s proposed electoral reforms that were tabled in Parliament this week.
In the campaign, the opposition outlined a multi-pronged approach of defiance and protests.
Dr. Kizza Besigye urged all Ugandans to first of all put pressure on their Members of Parliament (MPs) by demanding that they state their position on the popular demands that were compiled by opposition politicians and members of the civil society.
“This is a call to every citizen to right away put pressure on their MP to ensure that the set of demands that were compiled from Ugandans are implemented,”
In an indication of difficult times ahead, the opposition leaders said they will stage protests and rallies in different parts of the country to add pressure to the government to adopt the proposed reforms.
But the opposition leaders perhaps know pretty well that they face an impossible task of pushing through their reforms in Parliament given their minority representation. This is perhaps what prompted Lukwago to declare that the coming months will be chaotic.
“The battle lines have been drawn,” he added: “This is a war for life and death. Those with faint hearts should stock up on food. We are going through a tough period because the struggle is about putting the train back to its rails, and its everyone’s responsibility.”
Besigye added that if their demands are not integrated into the government’s electoral reforms bill, they will just boycott the elections, they will do everything possible to stop the government from going ahead with any type of election that does not conform to the standards set in the Constitution of Free and Fairness.
“We shall stop Kiggundu and Museveni from organising a sham election. The constitution provides for just one type of elections – one that is Free and Fair,” said Besigye.
Besigye and his colleagues said the campaign launched this week is not a plan to boycott the forthcoming elections next year, but rather to ensure that the government adopts the reforms.
“We are planning in every way to take part in the elections as long as they are free and fair. We simply will not allow Kiggundu to organise any election.” said Besigye.
Some of the outstanding sticking points in the campaign is the demand to have an independent electoral body whose members are selected by a judicial commission.
The opposition also wants the proposed reforms to include the re-instatement of presidential term limits in the constitution, unhindered access to the media and an end to the use of taxi-payers money in elections.
Lord Mayor Lukwago said the opposition have rejected the current register being updated by the Electoral Commission.
“With the fraudulent voters register being used by the EC, we cannot have free and fair elections,” added Lukwago.
This week, the government of President Museveni finally tabled reforms to the constitution, which were rubbished by the opposition as aimed primarily at keeping president Museveni in power.
Among the government proposals is the renaming of the Electoral Commission to become the Independent Electoral Commission. But opposition leaders say that just changing the name and maintaining the powers over who appoints the members adds up to nothing.