Oxfam Boss Warns Against Voter Intimidation in Uganda

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New Vision, Uganda

The Executive Director of Oxfam International Winnie Byanyima has called on voters in Uganda not to be intimidated by anyone in the countdown to next year’s Presidential and parliamentary election.

The soft spoken Winnie, who is the wife of the FDC party’s presidential candidate, insists that voters should be left to exercise the right of voting leaders of their choices.

“Vote as you want. Make your decision. Decide what is best for your community and your country and cast your vote according to how you see but not according to somebody’s money or because someone is threatening you with a gun,” says Winnie.

In an exclusive chat with New Vision at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris France, Winnie said that voters must look out against contestants who might want to bribe them to get elected. She wants the contestants and their agents that engage in such acts exposed. “Don’t allow bribers. Those who want to corrupt voters expose them,” said Winnie.

She urged prospective voters and all citizens to ensure next year’s election is peaceful and devoid of what she calls bullies.“Defend a peaceful election. Make sure there is peace wherever you are. Don’t allow bullies. Don’t allow anybody to come and destroy the peace,” says Winnie, who plans to travel to Uganda during the election time to cast her vote.

Speaking in the local language – Runyankole, Winnie, the former Member of Parliament for Mbarara municipality in Mbarara district, also told voters in Mbarara town that she knows and trusts they can never be bribed. She lamented the effects of climate change on communities in Uganda citing frequent and prolonged dry seasons, changing planting seasons, lack of water for livestock and frequent destructive rainstorms among other natural disasters.

She however said government has not done much to empower people to counteract climate change. Winnie stressed that the potential of Ugandan farmers as agents of change for climate mitigation and adaptation remains untapped. The Paris climate change talks came up with a legitimately binding agreement on climate for all countries in the world. Climate change related disasters have killed over 600,000 people in the last 20 years according to the United Nations report.