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Besigye Explains Why He Participates in Museveni’s ‘Unfair’ Elections

Besigye: Elections Give Us Opportunity to Organize Without Teargas

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Four-time presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye has explained why he and the opposition should keep taking part in the elections organized by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) government, which he has labelled a ‘junta’.

Besigye went through fire in 2015 when he announced he would stand for president, a year after he had sworn never to run against Museveni in a poll organized by the NRM.

“I cannot offer myself for an election under the conditions in which we have been having them — in other words, which is organized by a military regime,” said Besigye in a January 2014 interview.

“Whether united or not, you can’t dislodge Museveni through an election he organizes, supervises and controls.”

Since falling out with Museveni in 1999, the president’s former bush war physician has challenged Uganda’s three-decade leader four times.

Besigye is now taking a central role in by-elections, including the current one in Bugiri Municipality where he is being accused of attempting to block Jeema’s Asuman Basalirwa.

The opposition doyen is supporting Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate Eunice Namatende.

And while addressing reporters on the controversy Bugiri Municipality parliamentary poll, Besigye explained why it is important to keep taking part in elections.

“We are ruled by a military junta [and] the elections are organized by the junta. The election can’t be free or fair,” said Besigye.

“When we go there we are not competing against other political parties. We are competing against the state; the police, the Electoral Commission, the intelligence agencies, the RDC etc.”

Besigye said the elections, however unfair, present an opportunity for the opposition to organize.

“When the [ruling NRM government] organizes an election, it is seeking to legitimize itself. But in the process, it creates for us a rare opportunity to talk to the people without teargas,” noted Besigye.

“So we use it enthusiastically, to empower people with information so that people know their situation and what they have to do to get out of it.”

He added that only organization would guarantee freedom.

“We go there to organize. Only organized people can struggle and free themselves,” he said.

“In these electioneering activities, people are empowered to organize: that is the backgrounds of our participation in elections.”

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