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Quiet jitters as Uganda goes for landmark poll
Maryanne Njeri
Posted Mon, 03 Apr 2006

What makes the Ugandan elections particularly interesting is the two leading candidates vying for the number one seat. There are a total four candidates sponsored by political parties and one independent candidate.

The leading candidate is the incumbent, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, with his party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM). He has been in power since 1986 after overthrowing Milton Obote. February 23 2006 marks the beginning of his thrid term as well as his twentieth year as president.

He enrolled foreigners into his campaigns, namely, Rebecca Garang, the wife of the late Sudan Peoples Liberation Movemement/Army (SPLM/A) leader, and Libyan President, Muammar Gaddafi, who has always been a strong supporter of Museveni.

The second candidate is Col. (Rtd) Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party. A former colonel in Museveni�s army, he stood against Museveni during the last General Elections in 2001 but didn�t get the presidential seat.

Besigye then fled the country and on returning in 2005 was accused of treason, rape and concealment of information. He then found himself in jail for a few days but protests and demonstrations by his supporters increased his popularity. As the election drew nearer, he was released on bail but the rape case is stalling as the witnesses have failed to appear.

Miria Obote, wife of the late Milton Obote, is also a presidential hopeful from the Uganda People�s Congress. After being cleared to run for the presidency on the party�s ticket, she handpicked her son as her political assistant. Like Museveni and Besigye, her manifesto stresses health, education, employment and poverty eradication.

John Ssebana Kizito from the Democratic Party is also habouring ambitions of being president of Uganda but his support is not as strong as that of the NRM or the FDC. Abed Bwanika is an independent candidate whose support is also lacklustre.

And so the political scene is laden with drama � not surprisingly given that this is Uganda�s first multiparty General Elections. In 2005, as the countdown to February 2006 intensified, members of parliament were paid five million shilling to support the lifting of the presidential term limit.

Then Kizza Besigye increased Uganda�s infamy in both the local and international media with the myriad of court cases on allegedly trumped-up charges upon his return to the country from a self-imposed exile.

Come 2006, the government�s Media Centre announced new accreditation regulations for foreign journalists. According to the Media Centre, foreign journalists have to seek clearance from the Centre if they plan to be within a 100km radius of Kampala. In addition, the government authorised the Media Centre to investigate all foreign journalists entering Uganda, citing security concerns as the main reason.

As the campaigns draws to a close, Museveni has been accused by the other candidates of intimidating them. Moreover, he has clearly stated that stepping down is not in his interest.

With the first multiparty elections appearing very eventful, investors are keeping their hands in their pocket, watching and waiting to see what will happen after the elections.

After all is said and done, it appears to many that Museveni will be marching back to State House, his home for past two decades.

USE claims third position in 2005 Africa rankings

The Ugandan stock market has emerged a strong performer in the All Africa Shares Index 2005.

This is the second year in a row that the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) has emerged third in the rankings. USE posted 81 percent index gains after Egypt and Zambia. Neighbouring Kenya�s Nairobi Stock Exchange came fourth while Tanzania�s Dar-es-Salaam Securities Exchange came in 16th, posting a negative 12 percent index decline.

The January 2006 report published by Databank Research Africa, a finance advisory services firm in Ghana, states that the USE�s performance was buoyed by an influx of foreign investors and the presence of cheap valuations in the country relative to those of neighbouring countries.

In all, things look rosey enough for optimism, albeit guarded.

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