Besigye races against time to announce results

February 19, 2011 12:00 am

, KAMPALA, Feb 19 – At a secret location in the Ugandan capital, a team of young volunteers watched over by senior opposition leaders were counting votes Saturday, racing to release their own set of election results.

"Our plan is to announce by the end of today, because (Uganda\’s Electoral Commission) is talking about tomorrow," the person in-charge of the shadow tally centre told AFP, requesting anonymity because of security concerns.

Opposition leader Kizza Besigye has argued for years that Uganda\’s election panel is a pawn of President Yoweri Museveni, and its declared results from Uganda\’s February 18 election would be doctored.

Before the elections, Besigye vowed to tally and announce his own set of returns, despite official warnings such a move would be illegal and incite chaos.

On Saturday, dozens of volunteers, few older than 30, were camped at Besigye\’s tallying centre, some were at work in a room packed with well-used desktops, tabulating the available results.

"We have been working on setting this up for quite some time," the official said of the operation.

Others, huddled together at various places around the property, were waiting for more information to arrive, so they too could begin their work.

Besigye\’s staff says the location must remain secret to avoid being shut down by Museveni\’s security agents, and instructed AFP to change vehicles before getting access to the site.

Some volunteers said they had slept on mattresses available in the building, to cut down on suspicious movements around the property.

"I\’m here for my country," said one young activist, forced to remain idle until new data arrived from the thousands agents dispatched around the country.

The official said they only enter a result once a verified copy of the tally from a polling centre is delivered.


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