Ugandans on February 18 will go to the polls seeking change. Over 15 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots that day.
Events leading up to the election day, arrests and government being accused of using the security force to intimidate the opposition are not unprecedented in Ugandan politics.
But the past few days has been described as the most violent since campaigning began 3 months ago.
In a rare appearance, President Yoweri Museveni took part in a televised debate in Uganda, for the first time, even though he boycotted a previous one.
Shaking hands with 7 opponents before the debate was seen by some as a sign of perhaps the ‘long awaited change’.
However, that change is not going to come easily. There are some of the population who prefer to have President Museveni continue his over 30-year rule for the sake of “stability and security”.
“I support Museveni because of security. He brings us security, peace and he commands his army to follow the peace of Uganda,” Fabian Tuhumwire said.
“People in government, they are being well paid and in good conditions. So for me, I have studied in Museveni’s regime, he has paid my fees, he has given me a job, he is paying me very well, then what else do I need? That’s it,” Ismail Sefuko said.
“We who are in Uganda, we are still happy with him, we still like him, he’s a good man, he can listen to all our problems, so why do we have to kick him out? He still has the potential,” Wendy Collins added.
“It is better to live with a devil you have known than the angel that you have just seen because right now I am expecting a lot from our president,” Nabukalu Teddy said.
On the other hand, for the opposition, change means president Museveni must go.
“I want Dr Kizza Besigye because Museveni’s government has lost the grip for which the Ugandans have supported him in 1986,” Dumba Simon said.
“Health care is very very poor, so we need a leader who can come up and take care of the people,” Maghembe Christopher said.
“The incumbent president has been promising Uganda things to happen and it’s now 30 years and there is no change he has made,” Samali Kisolo added
“It’s time for change, thirty years is enough, we need change for everything needs to change, every person needs to change,” Kasakka.
But a lecturer at the Makerere University in Kampala cast doubts on the much touted change some Ugandans seek which according to him will not happen that easily.
“I am not too sure Uganda can have that change through the elections due to institutional and legal framework existing in the country.”
Corruption, unemployment, quality education and health care are a just a few of the issues driving the campaigns. However these were the same issues dominating previous election campaigns.
Eight candidates including a woman are vying for the presidential slot. But the competition is between incumbent President Yoweri and his arch rival Kizza Besigye and former prime minister Amama Mbabazi.
These two men are allies of the president who fell out with him along the way, accusing him of being a dictator.
“Uganda may not be at war but certainly we are not secure,” Amama Mbabazi, presidential candidate said.
President Yoweri Museveni considers himself as the best candidate among all the contenders.
“Yoweri Museveni is by far the most confident candidate among all these,” President Yoweri Museveni said.
“To those who think that the enthusiasm of the people of Uganda can change or be dampened by unleashing the type of violence that we saw, I’d like to say that it’s too late, your time is really up. The people of Uganda have made up their minds. And as they have shown you and the rest of the world, they want change,” Kizza Besigye, presidential candidate.
The presidential candidates used the last day of campaigning canvassing for votes from mainly young voters but the final decision now lies in the hands of over 15 million registered voters who will head to the polls on Thursday.