The United States Embassy in Uganda has cancelled its Diplomatic Observer Mission of Uganda’s general elections a day before the country heads to polls to elect a new president and members of parliament.
According to a statement released by the Embassy on Wednesday, several requests for observing the election were not approved by the Electoral Commission leaving them with a skeletal team which cannot meaningfully undertake the task.
“It is with profound disappointment that I announce the U.S. Mission in Uganda’s decision to cancel our diplomatic observation of Uganda’s January 14 elections due to the decision by the Electoral Commission of Uganda to deny more than 75 per cent of the U.S. election observer accreditations requested,” US Ambassador to Uganda Ms Natalie E. Brown said in a statement.
She added that despite multiple requests to the Electoral Commission (EC), no explanation was provided for its decision which was communicated just days before polling day.
She added that with only 15 accreditations approved, it was not possible for the United States to meaningfully observe the conduct of Uganda’s elections at polling sites across the country.
She also raised concern about reports that the EC has denied accreditation requests from members of other diplomatic missions and large numbers of Ugandan observers.
“The purpose of a diplomatic observation of elections is to demonstrate our interest in a free, fair, peaceful, and inclusive electoral process. Diplomatic observers are not participants or advisors in the electoral process. Rather, they informally observe the conduct of elections, following strict standards of impartiality, non-interference, and compliance with local laws,” she said.
Ambassador Natalie said that the absence of the robust participation of observers, particularly Ugandan observers who are answerable to their fellow citizens, the country’s elections will lack the accountability, transparency and confidence that observer missions provide.
Yesterday, the European Union Delegation to Uganda announced that its offer to deploy a small team of electoral experts was not taken up by the Electoral Commission, and as such, European Union observers, who were deployed across the country during elections in 2006, 2011 and 2016 will not observe the 2021 elections.
Uganda, the US said, will now miss the opportunity to benefit from observers’ insights to improve and inform future elections. Ugandans go to the polls tomorrow Thursday, January, 14 to vote for a President and Members of Parliament.
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