Uganda rejects EU team of election experts

The European Union (EU) has accused the Ugandan government of rejecting its offer to deploy a team of election experts for the purpose of monitoring this year’s general elections.

In a statement issued by Josep Borrell, EU’s high representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy who also doubles as Vice-President of the European Commission, in the place of election observers that it deployed in the previous elections, the EU had offered to send electoral experts but the government declined.

“The European Union observers, who were deployed across the country during elections in 2006, 2011 and 2016 will not observe these elections. The EU’s offer to deploy a small team of electoral experts was not taken up. The role of local observers will be even more important than before,” Borrell said in the statement.

Ugandans will go to the polls on Thursday, January 14, to elect a president and members of Parliament but the EU is raising credibility issues owing to the conduct of security forces especially the crackdown on opposition candidates and their supporters, journalists and civil society organisations.

“The pre-electoral cycle has been marred by violence and numerous difficulties faced by several opposition presidential candidates, civil society organisations, human rights defenders, electoral experts as well as journalists. The excessive use of force by law enforcement and security agencies has seriously tarnished this electoral process,” Borrell said.

He said that the EU expects transparent, inclusive and credible elections, as well as a level-playing field that allows all Ugandans to exercise their democratic rights, as candidates and as citizens, without fear of intimidation or violence.

“Crucial work of human rights defenders, journalists and civil society organisations should be supported to ensure accountability and transparency,” he said.

“Shared values of democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law will continue underpinning European Union relations with Uganda in 2021 and beyond,” he added.

The statement came hours after one of the key opposition candidates in the race, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu claimed that security forces had raided his home at Magere in Wakiso district and arrested most of the people who were found there.


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