- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 15, 2005

KAMPALA, Uganda (Agence France-Presse) — The national electoral board announced last week details of a national referendum on restoring multiparty politics after a strong endorsement of the idea by President Yoweri Museveni.

The campaign for the July 28 plebiscite will begin July 1 and end July 26, the electoral commission said. The question on the ballot is to read: “Do you agree to open up the political space to allow those who wish to join different organizations/parties to do so to compete for political power?”

Some analysts and opposition parties, which say they will boycott the vote, contend the referendum is a camouflage for an effort by Mr. Museveni to amend the constitution so he can seek a third term.

Mr. Museveni introduced the ban on political parties when he seized power in January 1986, arguing that pluralism was the cause of Uganda’s decades of strife and misrule under dictators Idi Amin and Milton Obote.

Under the current “no-party democracy,” political parties are allowed to exist but cannot field candidates in elections or have any offices other than a central headquarters. The only fully functioning party now is Mr. Museveni’s own National Resistance Movement, to which all Ugandans officially belong.

But critics say that Mr. Museveni, who has been elected twice in the past 18-plus years and is barred from seeking a third term, wants parliament to lift constitutional term limits, opening the door for him to become a potential “president for life.”

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