Uganda currently hosts over two million refugees, and it is predicted by some experts that this number could shoot up to three million by the end of 2021.
Even during this dire time when the world is facing the COVID-19 pandemic, and border closings the inflow to Uganda is increasing. Around 70% of all refugees are from South Sudan. Other countries include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi and the Central African Republic.
There is concern that these refugees have obtained national IDs by Gen. Yoweri Museveni’s government to let them vote in the 2021 elections. Gen. Museveni, the kleptocratic leader of 34 years fears that he might fail to get 51% of the required vote to avoid a runoff. Ugandan citizens have been mobilized in massive numbers against Gen. Museveni by the opposition leaders Dr. Kizza Besigye and the People Power/National Unity Party (NUP) leader Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a Bobi Wine.
Kyagulanyi and several others, including retired general Mugisha Muntu of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), have already declared their candidacy, challenging Gen. Museveni on the ballot in 2021. Dr. Besigye who says he won’t participate in another rigged election insists that Gen. Museveni must go before 2021 elections.
Sources from the Ministry of Internal Affairs revealed recently that many refugees in the camps in the northern and western parts of Uganda have been provided with National Identity Cards which is the necessary voting tool and have been going through briefing about the voting process since May of this year. It is believed that these refugees, children of above fourteen years shall accompany their adult fellows to the polling stations nearby the camps to cast their votes. According to these sources Sam Engola and Matayo Kyaligonza are the people Gen. Museveni have entrusted with the roles of coordination. They are the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) chairmen in, respectively, Northern and Western Uganda. Both areas have a high concentration of refugees.
During the “acclimatization” process, these refugees were coached on how to vote for Gen. Museveni in the forthcoming elections, unless they wanted to face the prospect of being forced to return to their countries of origin, these sources say. Gen. Museveni has been rigging elections since 1996 and he has mastered the art of the undemocratic game of cowardice. Every election cycle, he brings in new methods of vote-rigging to augment the old ones. Polling agents of his opponents are normally chased away or imprisoned to allow uninterrupted ballot box-stuffing and bribery, especially in the villages.
It is foolhardy to think that opposition politicians will be given airtime on radio and television to campaign for the so-called scientific elections when almost 95% of the stations belong to Gen. Museveni’s bootlickers. Dr. Besigye has been, on innumerable occasions, pulled out of radio stations while conducting his mass mobilization campaigns. Social media was switched off in the last election, in 2016.
Ugandans interested in change must resist any scheme to let refugees illegally vote for Gen. Museveni. Article 61(e) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda mandates the Electoral Commission to compile, maintain, revise, and update the national voters’ register. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land; and as such, any other laws, orders and implementations that contravene it are null and void.
The Constitution provides the right to vote to every Ugandan citizen; refugees are not citizens of Uganda.
This article was published by Black Star News.