UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
UGANDA: "Little new" in referendum plan
NAIROBI, 14 April (IRIN) - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has confirmed he intends to push ahead with a referendum next year on how the country should be governed.
According to press reports, he rejected a proposal from within his National Resistance Movement (NRM) to bypass the constitutional requirement for a referendum in the year 2000 and extend the current system of government to 2006.
However, David Ouma Balikowa, deputy editor of the independent 'Monitor' newspaper in Kampala, told IRIN on Wednesday there was "little new" about the announcement, in a context where opposition parties do not believe Museveni and his government are serious about democratisation.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of a national executive meeting of the ruling NRM on Tuesday, Museveni said the ultimate decision about how the country should be governed must be made by the people of Uganda.
Balikowa commented that the Ugandan public no longer takes these pronouncements seriously. "In fact the opposition parties are likely to boycott the referendum because to participate in a vote on whether or not Uganda has a right to multi-party politics would be to concede a point of principle," he added.
The NRM also announced on Tuesday a new 15-point programme outlining its goals for the future, including issuing government bonds to "borrow from the public" and "inculcating a culture of saving", press reports said.
Coming just two weeks after the closure of Uganda's Greenland Bank - at the insistence of the IMF, which has taken a tough stand on corruption and financial mismanagement - Balikowa commented that most Ugandans cannot afford to save and that these strategies would be commonly seen as "seeking to take people's money".
Over 100,000 customers were deprived of their deposits and Greenland's managing director, Dr Sulaiman Kiggundu, was sacked and imprisoned amid accusations of insider lending and extending loans to associated companies without adequate security.
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 17:11:48 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: UGANDA: "Little new" in referendum plan 
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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