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Vol 42 No 7

Published 6th April 2001


Ungracious winner

President Museveni's crushing victory raises concerns about the return of personal rule

Losing is completely hypothetical. It will not happen,' President Yoweri Museveni told journalists in Kampala on the eve of the presidential election on 13 March. He did not lose and his opponent, Kizza Besigye, is asking the Supreme Court to annul the result because of rigging and intimidation by Museveni's campaign team. Besigye's court action started on 2 April and may last a month. The Court is likely to hear much about the Museveni team's rough tactics and may see video and audio evidence of abuses. Few believe that Besigye will win but reporting of the proceedings will further damage Museveni's reputation as a progressive reformer. He abandoned his revolutionary Marxist views shortly after winning power in 1986. Most Ugandans had never before witnessed real elections. Museveni's first serious challenger - a retired colonel, formerly his personal physician and government minister - is, like the President, Ankole from the east of the country. He stood as a reformer of the ruling National Resistance Movement, gaining strength from an alliance with Museveni's opponent in the 1996 election, Paul Ssemogerere of the Democratic Party, whose main support is from Catholics in Buganda, in the south-west. In return for Ssemogerere's support and that of the populist ex-mayor of Kampala, Nasser Ssegebaga, Besigye promised to hasten the return to multi-party politics.

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