By Vision Reporter
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate, Dr. Kizza Besigye has gained more political ground, according to another poll released by Research World International (RWI).
The results of the poll, which were released yesterday at Protea Hotel, put the National Resistance Movement (NRM) presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni at 51%. The report shows that 32% of the respondents said they would vote for the FDC presidential candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye and 12% for the TDA Go-Forward coalition candidate Amama Mbabazi.
Peoples Development Party presidential candidate Dr. Abed Bwanika scored 1% followed by Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba who got 0.2%. Maj. Gen. Benon Biraaro and Joseph Mabirizi got 0.1% each and Maureen Kyalya Walube is at the tail end with 0.04%.
Ugandan laws require a presidential candidate to get above 50% plus one to be declared a winner without which a re-run is organised involving the two leading candidates. RWI director Dr. Patrick Wakida said the poll was conducted between December 19, 2015 and January 10, 2016.
He said the opinion poll sampled 2,685 Ugandans in different parts of the country representing the various demographic categories of the population. An earlier opinion poll released last year in August by RWI put Museveni at 55%, Besigye at 17% and Mbabazi 13%. This implies that Dr. Kizza Besigye’s support has almost doubled. A Vision Group opinion poll released early this week put Museveni at 71%, Besigye 19%, Mbabazi 6% and Bwanika 1%.
Asked whether the 2016 presidential election will be free and fair, 40% said yes, 33% said no while 19% said they are not sure. Asked what their main fears are regarding the forthcoming elections, the voters mostly mentioned political instability, vote rigging, intimidation by security forces and President Museveni refusing to hand over power if he loses.
On whether the Uganda political power can be changed peacefully from one president to another, 41% said no while 48% said it is possible. On what they regard to be the four most serious problems facing Uganda, most voters mentioned high levels of corruption, high rate of unemployment, increasing poverty levels, inadequate health facilities and services and poor roads and transport system.
Asked whether they trust in the Electoral Commission, 46% said yes while 47% said they do not trust it. Wakida said public trust in Uganda’s Electoral Commission has been declining from 63% in 2005, 52% in 2011 and to 40% in 2015.
He, however, observed that the race for the presidency is much tougher than it was in July when the first opinion poll was conducted. According to Wakida Besigye has gained "very high momentum" in the post-nomination polls having never scored beyond 18 percent while Museveni's score has never been below 60 percent in all previous polls.
The poll further shows that 78 percent of the voters hail Museveni for his efforts to maintain peace, security and stability, 65 percent for improvements in education and 39 percent for improving the road infrastructure.
Recent opinion polls conducted by media houses; the Vision Group Ltd and Monitor Publication Ltd, put Museveni in the lead with 71 percent and 59 percent respectively. The New Vision poll was conducted this month.
Wakida says 47 percent of the respondents believed that the poll had been commissioned by the government as opposed to 12 percent who believed that it was an initiative of RWI. He, however, says this doesn't necessarily imply that the respondents could have felt intimidated during the data collection process.
"There was a fair share of attribution even to those who said they were sent by government. We did not find statistical attribution to sting that all those who said they were sent by government ended up saying they would vote for Museveni, we did not find that.
We also tested out to see, when we asked; 'how free are you to talk about this?' We looked at all those people who said they were not free and still even those were not free, you find those who say they will vote for the opposition. So there is quite a small significance of those people who felt that we had been sent by government
The poll also reveals that 44 percent of the respondents want President Museveni to retire before the February 18 elections, 17 percent after the coming elections and 13 percent say he can retire whenever he wants. 7 percent think he should rule for life and another 7 percent think he should retire during the 2021 elections.
By the time of the polls, Museveni had covered at least 57 of the districts, Besigye 32 and Amama Mbabazi 12 districts. According to the poll findings, Museveni would garner more votes Eastern Uganda with 59 percent followed by Besigye in Central region with 35 percent and Mbabazi in Northern Uganda with 14 percent.
The polls shows Museveni enjoys massive support in rural areas with 57 percent while Besigye dominates urban centers with 43 percent. The poll further indicates that Museveni would garner majority votes from low, medium and high income earners with percentages of 54, 44 and 77 respectively followed by Besigye with 30, 39 and 12 percent in the same order.
The remaining presidential candidates including Venansius Baryamureeba, Abed Bwanika, Maureen Kyalya, Benon Biraaro and Joseph Mabirizi scored 1 percent across all the regions.
Reacting on the poll, NRM deputy spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said: “If you have been in power for 30 years and you get 51%, you need to congratulate yourself. The general conclusion is that NRM and Museveni are winning the elections. Our internal survey shows Museveni will win with 73%.
I think the poll by New Vision, which puts Museveni at 71% is more accurate.” Speaking on behalf of FDC, Gawaya Tegulle said: “This poll shows that Museveni has lost ground and the opposition has gained more ground.” On behalf of the TDA Go-Forward camp, Justice Forum president Asuman Basalirwa said: “The prevailing political environment in Uganda cannot produce a realistic opinion poll. Mbabazi has been underrated. You all know that in this campaign, he has suffered most the hostility from the Government.” Bishop Zac Niringiye, a political activist said: “The decline in the confidence in the Electoral Commission is a vote of no confidence in Museveni and his government. Statics show that 19.9 million are below 18 years and eligible voters are 15 million people. The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda says voters are in the range of 12 million. This means the register has about 3.2 million ghost voters.”