Veteran opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye has told newly appointed US ambassador to Uganda Natalie E Brown that Electoral Commission (EC) chairperson Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama had failed to commit himself to steering the country through a free, fair and credible 2021 election process.
Justice Byabakama is conducting his first presidential election in his capacity as EC chairperson, having replaced Eng Badru Kiggundu, who Besigye previously accused of rigging in favour of incumbent President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni, now in power for almost 35 years.
Just over a year ago, Besigye’s People’s Government (PG) petitioned the High Court to throw Byabakama out of office for refusing to resign his job as a Justice of Court of Appeal.
Besigye’s vote of no-confidence in Byabakama begins as far as 2005 when the now head of the elections management body played a key role in the prosecution of case in which the opposition kingpin was accused of rape.
But Justice John Bosco Katutsi punched holes in prosecution’s arguments, describing evidence brought before the temple of justice as “inadequate even to prove a debt, impotent to deprive of a civil right, ridiculous for convicting of the pettiest offence, scandalous if brought forward to support a charge of any grave character, monstrous if to ruin the honour of a man who offered him as a candidate for the highest office of this country.”
So, when Ambassador Brown reported that she had had “had a candid exchange today with the Uganda Electoral Commission Chair Justice Byabakama and his team on measures needed to ensure a democratic process citizens can trust,” Besigye patted her on the back on such a huge task.
Besigye believes that Byabakama and his team are deliberate in their efforts to frustrate the opposition, biased and working to keep the regime in power.
As far as he is concerned, the Byabakama commission lacks the commitment and conviction to ensure a free, fair and credible election, rein in security agencies meting out violence on presidential candidates like Patrick Oboi Amuriat of main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine of National Unity Platform (NUP).
“Congs! It can’t be easy engaging a blind, deaf and dumb Electoral Commission Chairman and his team,” Besigye told Brown.
Meanwhile, the envoy noted that “campaign SOPs must be applied equally and in full transparency,” adding that “violence has no place in the electoral space.”