Reconciliation talk takes stage in Uganda after contested elections

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

Uganda’s Electoral Commission on Thursday released the final results of the Jan. 14 presidential elections and maintained incumbent President Yoweri Museveni’s win in the hotly contested poll, with 58.38 percent of the vote.

Museveni’s closest rival Robert Kyagulanyi, a popular musician-turned politician, scored 35.08 percent. In the preliminary results, Museveni scored 58.64 percent versus Kyagulanyi’s 34.83 percent.

Opposition leaders have called on their supporters to reject the results. “We encourage all of you to use all non-violent and legal means and ideas at your disposal to engage in this fight for complete freedom,” Kyagulanyi said on Friday.

While the political tension seems to be calming down compared with the pre-election time, security forces say they are still on alert against any chaos.

The military and police still patrol the streets in the capital city of Kampala and surrounding suburbs, although at a reduced frequency compared with the election time.

As normalcy returns, political and religious forces are calling for reconciliation after what some analysts describe as the country’s most violent elections since Museveni took over power in 1986.

Museveni has said that he does not need anyone to mediate talks between the ruling National Resistance Movement party and the opposition. He said he has been long enough in power and has gained experience to engage the opposition in reconciliation talk.

Museveni said he is willing to talk to the opposition if they do not cause post-election violence. “So really for us we do not have much problem (with reconciliation). We have the mouth and we use it to talk.

The only thing we shall not tolerate is violence. This is the minimum,” Museveni was quoted by local newspaper Daily Monitor on Wednesday.

There is no indication yet whether the opposition is willing to talk. Opposition leaders who competed in the elections say they are consulting each other to map out a way forward.

Western envoys, who themselves have had a lashing from the Ugandan government for interfering in the country’s internal affairs, have urged the opposition to avoid any post-election violence and seek court redress instead.

British High Commissioner to Uganda Kate Airey, after meeting Kyagulanyi on Wednesday, urged all parties to desist from violence, engage in peaceful dialogue and follow the due process to address the problems in the elections.

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