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KPFA Weekend News Anchor Veronica Faisant:
Two of the viable candidates who attempted to contest Rwanda's presidential election this year, Victoire Ingabire and Bernard Ntaganda, will be spending Christmas in a maximum security prison, while the third, Frank Habineza of the Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, remains in Sweden, where he has taken refuge with his family. But, that isn't stopping opposition candidates in Rwanda's neighbor Uganda, who are attempting to contest this year's presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for February. KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.
Supreme Court in Uganda ruled that the country's National Electoral Commission is corrupt, incompetent, and, in violation of the country's election law, but Yoweri Museveni, Uganda's president for the past 24 years, has not responded with any reform. Chris Opoka is a spokesperson for the Ugandan People's Congress, one of the two leading opposition parties, which is led by their presidential candidate Olara Otunnu, an internationally known human rights advocate. Opoka spoke to KPFA from Kampala, Uganda:
Do you have any hope that there will be a fair election in February?
Ugandan United People's Congress Spokesperson Chris Opoka:
There will not be fair elections unless the Electoral Commission is removed and a new Electoral Commission is constituted. The Electoral Commission is not independent at all. It is not independent. The voter registration is utterly, completely, completely flawed, completely corrupt.
Opoka says that 80% of Uganda's population are subsistence farmers and that the main issues are poverty, rampant corruption, and segregated education, which leaves the children of the majority peasant population being shuffled through poor public schools without learning anything or acquiring any skills while children of the elite attend private school.
Recent oil discoveries in Lake Albert on Uganda's border with the Democratic Republic of Congo are estimated to be worth $30 billion dollars, but most leases and contracts for extraction and even extraction support services have thus far gone to foreign corporations, and Opoka says that Uganda's poor peasant majority cannot expect to benefit without a major shift in political power.
For Pacifica, KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison.