Ugandan opposition party elects poll flagbearer


Uganda’s largest opposition party has chosen its leader Kizza Besigye to face off against the east African nation’s long-serving president in the 2011 national election, officials said.

The election of Besigye — who has lost to President Yoweri Museveni in the previous two polls — was widely expected by political observers in the region’s third largest economy, which is gearing up to start pumping oil in the coming years.

“The support to win an election has always been there, I have always won the election,” Besigye said, defending himself against doubts among some in his Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) about his ability to beat Museveni.

“We won the last two elections but they were stolen and the Supreme Court of this country unanimously agreed that the elections were stolen,” he said late on Thursday.

Besigye — formerly Museveni’s personal doctor — asked the high court in the last two polls to cancel the election results due to fraud. However, a majority of judges ruled that there had been rigging but not enough to affect the result.

The FDC is part of an opposition alliance that has said it will field one candidate in the poll — although no one has been named yet — but critics say it is unlikely that the fractious opposition parties will be able to unite under one banner.

Museveni has led Uganda since taking power in 1986 and has been widely credited for the nation’s macroeconomic stability and strong growth. But human rights groups have increasingly criticised the former rebel leader for cracking down on the opposition and media and allowing corruption to flourish.

Museveni is widely expected to stand again for another term.

Landlocked Uganda has recently attracted foreign investor interest largely because of the discovery of significant oil reserves, as well as for its debt and money markets.

SOURCED FROM REUTERS

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