Uganda on Monday began a two-day nomination process for candidates who will compete in February’s presidential elections. President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the country for 34 years, was the first to be nominated and warned that any opponents who destabilize the country will be dealt with. Opposition candidates, including musician turned politician Bobi Wine, say their homes and offices are under surveillance.
At 10:30 am Monday, flanked by his wife and ten supporters allowed at the presidential nomination venue, President Yoweri Museveni arrived with his full presidential motorcade and escorts.
On streets and roads leading to the nomination grounds, songs of praise for Museveni blared through speakers and were danced to by his supporters, wearing yellow T-shirts.
After going through his documents for verification and reading him the electoral rules, Electoral Commission Chairman Simon Byabakama declared Museveni a candidate for the February elections.
“I Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon being the returning officer for the nomination Presidential candidates, hereby declare that Yoweri Museveni Tibuhaburwa Kaguta, a duly nominated candidate, in respect of the Presidential elections 2021,” he said.
All day, Ugandan social media, radio and television have been awash with songs and messages shouting out Museveni’s campaign slogan, “secure your future.”
In this song, President Yoweri Museveni is praised for his management of affairs, including the handling of the opposition, saying he is not as bad as late presidents Idi Amin Dada and Milton Obote.
Bu after his nomination Monday, President Museveni took a tough tone, accusing opponents of receiving support from abroad, and suggesting the ruling NRM party will use force to keep order if he deems it necessary.
He said, I hear there are people who want to disorganize and act foolishly. He said I want to assure you that no one will bring disorganization here, and whoever does so will regret it. Because, we don’t joke. NRM fought to bring peace in this country…. I am not holding a gun now, but no one has stronger military power than us, but we don’t scare people, said Museveni.
Museveni is expected to face nine challengers for the presidency. By the end of Monday, five candidates will have been nominated.
Some presidential aspirants, including Lieutenant General Henry Tumukunde and Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, say their homes and offices are under surveillance.
“You’ve all noticed, they’ve blocked roads coming to our offices and leaving. They’ve also deployed unnecessarily everywhere. And I want to believe that is to intimidate Ugandans. And tomorrow, I will leave my house with my wife and a few friends heading to the nomination center. I am not going to hide from nobody. I am not a criminal. I am a free Ugandan,” he said outside his house in Kampala.
There is likely to be a heavy presence of police on the streets tomorrow when the opposition Forum for Democratic Change and Wine’s NUP party nominate their presidential candidates.
Since last week, police have warned opposition parties not to hold any kind of procession on the way to the nomination center.