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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 February 2006, 15:13 GMT
Press urges calm in Uganda row
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni shows his ink-covered finger after casting his vote
Incumbant President Yoweri Museveni won 59% of the vote

Newspapers in Uganda and in neighbouring Kenya have called for calm as the opposition in Uganda continues to reject official figures giving incumbent Yoweri Museveni a clear victory in last week's presidential election.

Even the independent Sunday Monitor in Kampala seeks to cool tempers despite claiming that the authorities have sought to jam an affiliated radio station for trying to report poll findings at variance with the official version.

And there is consensus that the winner has to show magnanimity to the losers.

"The 2006 general elections are over. After the expected celebrations and tears, some primitive insults flying around and a few punishments to be inflicted on those who did not 'deliver', we need to roll up our sleeves and get back to work. Quickly," argues the Sunday Monitor.

It calls on the president "to understand that opposition is not the same as treason, and that criticism is not necessarily subversion. The winner of Thursday's election must desist from the pettiness of hounding his or her opponents".

Another report in the same paper says "the government has jammed the signal of 93.3 KFM, a sister media outlet of Daily/Sunday Monitor, for independently relaying results from Thursday's elections".

"The results showed a much closer race between President Museveni and key challenger Kizza Besigye compared to those being released by the Electoral Commission. The government consequently blocked the website."

We must learn from this history. One big phenomenon that has undermined multipartyism is the culture of intolerance
New Vision

According to pro-government The Sunday Vision, "in every competition, losers outnumber winners. The game of politics is no exception. Already a large number of political heavyweights have been beaten".

"Let us have good winners and good losers. If candidates believe they have lost unfairly, they can always challenge the result in court. But let losing candidates not incite their supporters to resentment, anger and violence. Then all Ugandans will be losers. And let the winners be magnanimous and minimise the natural hurt felt by the losers."

The pro-government daily New Vision earlier made an appeal for the country "to be prepared to respect the verdict of the people so that we all live in peace for the next five years".

"We must learn from this history. One big phenomenon that has undermined multipartyism is the culture of intolerance," argues New Vision. "Democracy requires living together in diversity but with harmony. But election results tend to be disputed on what are usually flimsy grounds, which comes from an either-I-win-or-they-are-damned attitude."

"That win-at-all-cost thinking rejects the given that in any contest there must be a winner and a loser.

"On the other hand, the winners are often vindictive. How many times do we hear, in Africa, of opposition supporters being persecuted or marginalised in one way or another? How often is opposition politics treated as treason? Unless there are strong grounds, whoever loses the presidential poll should be gracious in defeat, and the winner magnanimous to the loser."

According to the Daily Monitor, "we hold elections because we do not choose to pick leaders through wars and coups... If any camp believes it has been cheated, they should head to the courts of law, not the bush. We can no longer afford to lose lives over who lives in State House".

Encouraging signs

Kenya's Sunday Nation is encouraged by the overall electoral process in Uganda.

"As often happens after elections, there are celebrations in Uganda following President Yoweri Museveni's victory over his challenger, former close associate Kizza Besigye, but also immense disappointment, glumness and sadness in the losing camp.

It was bound to be a bad gamble for Dr Kizza Besigye, the man whose ruffled body now bears the scars and strain of trying to unseat the African Big Man
Kenya's The Standard

"However, it was from the word 'go' a tall order for Dr Besigye, who was initially kept off the campaign trail, facing all manner of charges. But, the mere fact that his candidature was not annulled is a plus in our neighbours' growth towards a political maturity.

"Whatever the shortcomings, that President Museveni grudgingly gave in to the restoration of multi-party rule... This first multi-party poll in quarter a century is a laudable political achievement."

A commentator in Kenya's The Standard writes that Mr Museveni "is about to extend his 20 years in power because his style and language now bears the streak of the Big Man in the African kraal".

"With the spirit of incumbency propelling him and the instruments of coercion at his disposal, it was bound to be a bad gamble for Dr Kizza Besigye, the man whose ruffled body now bears the scars and strain of trying to unseat the African Big Man."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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SEE ALSO:
Uganda's Museveni wins election
25 Feb 06 |  Africa
Country profile: Uganda
25 Feb 06 |  Country profiles


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