UGANDA – For the last five presidential elections since 1996, President Museveni has been either changing the order of his names or he has added another.

The intention, according to the lawyers and political pundits is to alphabetically be placed first or last on the ballot paper for easy identification by his voters.

Throughout his life, he has been known as ‘Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’ but in the 1996 presidential ballot he was ‘Kaguta Museveni Yoweri’.

This gave him a sequential opportunity to be on top of the ballot paper because other candidates were Ssemwogerere Kawanga Paul and Kibirige Mayanja.

With Kaguta as his first name, he was put first on the ballot and this according to Mr Dan Ogalo Wandera, a lawyer and a politician, was easy for “his illiterate voters” to easily identify their candidate on the ballot.

“Changing of the order [of names] can be informed by the advantage that comes with it because majority of the voters are illiterate. They don’t know these candidates and can’t differentiate. But if you are the first or last one, it easy to tell them to vote the last person on the ballot,” he said.

In 2001, President Museveni changed and contested as Museveni Kaguta Yoweri and was the last on the ballot after the top position was taken by Aggrey Awori.  However, the names on his flyer are arranged differently from the ones of the ballot paper.

The other candidates, who contested were Besigye Kizza, Bwengye Francis and Chaapa Karuhanga.

Mr Alfred Okello Oryem, a lawyer who also handles the Electoral Commission cases, says it is legal and lawful to change the order as long as one registers a statutory declaration.

“It’s perfectly within the law to change the order or even completely change the name under the Registration of Persons Act,” he says.

In 2006, President Museveni contested as Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to remain at the bottom of the ballot paper.

During the same election, Dr Besigye contested for the second time and new candidates such as Bwanika Abed, Ssebaana Kizito, Obote Miria and artist Ssenkubuge Siasa joined the race.

This meant that if Mr Museveni used the same names in 2001, Ssenkubuge would have been the last on the ballot and Dr Besigye would be on top.

From the 2011 election to date, his first name on the ballot has been Yoweri but with the middle and the last names changing.

This has guaranteed him the last position on the ballot.

But his lawyer Kiryowa kiwanuka says the order does not matter and he still remains the same person.

According to the Electoral Commission tally sheets in 2011, he was Yoweri Museveni Kaguta and still guaranteed him the last position in the competition against Dr Besigye, Beti Kamya, Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, Norbert Mao, Olara Otunnu and Samuel Lubega. In 2016, he was Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

Mr Okello also says lack of effective civic education and illiteracy among the voters is the reason why candidates keep changing the order of their names.

He also says changing the order is also a move to rebrand and attract new voters.

“At times, they want to look new and younger to appeal to generally new voters, especially for the politicians who are getting order,” he said.

In the next election, he swore a deed poll and the fourth name has been added and he will be Yoweri Tibahaburwa Kaguta Museveni.

A statement issued by his lawyer Kiwanuka on October 6.

“I formally and absolutely renounce and abandon the use of the names, Yoweri Museveni, Yoweri Tibahaburwa Museveni and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and assume and adopt my full name Yoweri Tibahaburwa Kaguta Museveni”, Museveni stated.

He and other presidential candidates such as Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde, Robert Kyagulanyi, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu also swore the deed poll to have their National Identity Card names correspond with those on their academic papers.

The move to change names followed a 2018 High Court ruling in the case of Catherine Achola Osepelem in which she had sued the Electoral Commission (EC) challenging their decision of denominating her as a candidate for Pallisa Woman Member of Parliament, on grounds that she did not possess academic papers as required under section 4 (1) (c) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005.

The Catherine Osepelem names did not match with the names on the requisite academic documents.

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