There been written a lot about the General Elections in Uganda of 2016, myself is guilty for doing so and with that in mind. I have read through the newly released Report of the European Union Election Observers Mission of 2016. That is worthy of taking what I see fit to broadcast and what the Europeans who went quick, took a safari and also spent some time at the Polling Stations. Here is what they said about the elections!
An important factor in what the EU thinks about the General Elections of 2016:
“Vital electoral reforms did not take place prior to the 2016 elections. Proposed amendments to the electoral legislation, compiled under the ‘Uganda Citizens Compact’, aimed at enabling the conduct of democratic elections, including to increase transparency in the appointment of the EC’s members, to restore presidential term limits and to improve parties’ financial accountability, were disregarded by the executive. Consequently, the legal framework contains gaps and ambiguities and therefore, in several instances, falls short of international principles for holding genuine democratic elections” (EU EOM, 2016).
Election Verification of Voters:
“The newly introduced voter registration system improved inclusiveness and accuracy of the voter register (VR). The final VR contained 15.277 million voters. However, establishing the cut-off date of 11 May 2015 for inclusion in the voter register disenfranchised approximately half million potential voters who turned 18 after this date” (EU EOM, 2016).
Lack of Transparency:
“While legislation contains provisions on reporting and disclosure of political finance, these are neither followed by parties and candidates, nor enforced by the EC. This lack of transparency weakens the credibility of the elections” (EU EOM, 2016).
Maladministration of the vote:
“Voters showed remarkable determination on election day, waiting long hours to cast their ballots. The markedly late arrival of electoral material in certain areas marred an otherwise calm election day. The EC failed to address growing tensions among people deferred from voting. Instead, an imposing presence of police in the vicinity of polling stations was observed. Further shortcomings, such as unsealed ballot boxes in 20 per cent and compromised secrecy of vote in 11 per cent of polling stations visited, were observed by the EU EOM. Positively, party agents and domestic observers were mostly present in polling stations visited by the EU EOM” (EU EOM, 2016).
Talley Centre mishaps:
“In 85 per cent of the District Tally Centres (DTCs) observed, the printed sub-county results, broken down to polling station level, were not handed out or publicised. The Electronic Result and Transmission System, used to transmit the collated results from districts to the EC, did not contain key anti-fraud measures. In several districts, the electronic transfer did not take place; the results were brought to the EC by the district returning officer in person. The final tallying for these districts could not be observed, further undermining the integrity of the process” (EU EOM, 2016).
The Badru Kiggundu’s soul:
“The chairperson of the Commission expressed regret that he had nominated an opposition presidential candidate; made public remarks on a candidate’s family member, and on another occasion described him as not “exactly being a fountain of honour” (EU EOM, 2016).
Police intervene in the Election:
“On a number of occasions, opposition candidates, particularly from the FDC and TDA/Go Forward, were denied access to campaign venues, restricting their ability to campaign freely. The EU EOM received reports and observed extensive use of force by police, including teargas and assault rifles, to disperse crowds during Kizza Besigye’s and Amama Mbabazi’s rallies in Bukwo, Kasenge, and Ntungamo, among others.25 On 15 February, police detained Besigye twice, preventing him from addressing scheduled rallies in Central Kampala, and used teargas and live ammunition against his supporters, resulting in one death and several injuries” (EU EOM, 2016).
Government officials intervene in the Election:
“The orchestrated use of state resources and personnel for campaign purposes was observed. Government officials took an active role in the NRM campaign, with several Resident District Commissioners and high-ranking security officials openly endorsing the candidacy of President Museveni and the NRM campaign. Thus, candidates’ equality of opportunity was not respected” (EU EOM, 2016).
Intimidation during the Election:
“In Bukwo district on 6 January, the police dispersed the campaign rally of FDC presidential candidate Besigye in Toriet Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp using teargas and assault rifles. Several senior FDC figures received minor injuries. The police stated that Besigye diverted from his planned route without justification and thus provoked acts of public disorder” (…)”On 25 January, the IGP stated that all critics who are simply ‘political opportunists’ can ‘go hang.’ On 27 January, he was also quoted saying ‘power shall not be handed over to the opposition to destabilise the peace the country has fought for.’ In a press release, the police later claimed that the media had misquoted the IGP” (…)”EU EOM observers received reports of intimidation of opposition and opposition supporters in Amuru, Bujenje, Buliisa, Gulu, Isingiro, Kamwenge, Kapchorwa, Kasese, Kiruhura, Kisoro, Lira, Masindi, Mbarara, Moroto, Mukono, Nakapiripirit, Nwoya, and Wakiso. Intimidation of voters was reported from Kiboga, Lira, Luweero, Moroto, Nakapiripirit and Sembabule districts” (EU EOM, 2016).
Bad rhetoric during the Election:
“On 9 October, the President was quoted as saying that anybody who attempts to oppose him will, ‘Be smashed completely and no trace of his remains will be found on the ground,’ and on 20 December that ‘The thugs who attacked NRM supporters in Ntungamo will pay dearly.’ NRM secretary general Justine Kasule Lumumba was quoted on Radio Simba on 25 January saying, ‘We shall shoot anyone who will come on the streets to demonstrate against vote rigging.’ On 1 February, the deputy RDC in Jinja was quoted saying: ‘Whoever will be found disrupting the February 18 elections in Jinja District will be shot dead.’” (EU EOM, 2016).
Campaign funding disclosure:
“The total amount of money jointly spent by presidential and parliamentary candidates is not independently calculated and verified. According to presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi, he funded his three billion UGX campaign from his personal funds and received no donations. Kizza Besigye disclosed that his expenses totalled one billion UGX, of which 96 million UGX were donations. Incumbent president Museveni’s campaign team refused to disclose the amount/value or sources of his campaign funds” (EU EOM, 2016).
Media Freedom during the Elections:
“The NRM, with more funds at its disposal, admits to frequently using paid-for pseudo-journalism to boost its visibility and enhance the reputation of both the party and its candidates. An edifying example of the system in place occurred in Rwenzori, where 17 outspoken journalists were compelled to attend the President’s briefing in Masindi state lodge. The President not only instructed journalists to campaign for the NRM at grassroots level, but also provided them with financial ‘facilitation’. Consequently, the line between advertisements and editorial content was blurred and the impartiality of information offered to the electorate was eroded” (…)”Hostile statements targeting outlets owned by the country’s largest commercial media house, Nation Media Group (NMG), were repeatedly made by the President and reiterated by the state’s top executives. This reverberated at the local level, with the RDCs and other state actors orchestrating measures that encourage self-censorship on issues that might be perceived as critical to the President or the government. Intimidating phone calls, “guidance meetings” for journalists and editors chaired by the law enforcement bodies, as well as requests to submit the radio’s programming to the RDC or local UCC representative prior to broadcasting were the most wide-spread measures applied to put media under pressure. The EU EOM received reports on such occurrences in 20 districts” (…)”On 24 January the President stated: “Monitor and NTV don’t know that there is a good, they just tell lies…. NTV is an enemy”. The President voiced a similar statement on 31 January. On 29 January the minister of Information and National Guidance: “There is no media house that can take the law in their hands…we definitely shall close them down”. The government/NRM spokesperson criticized media on 1 February. On 9 February owners and editors of all leading media houses were invited to the dinner hosted by the EC and the UCC where all were warned that UCC will “without a hesitation sanction the media outlets” (…)”Media monitoring findings correspond the parties’ and candidates’ assessment of the balance and quality of local radio coverage of their campaign. While 78 per cent of the NRM’s local leadership believes that media featured them fairly, the FDC’s assessment of radio’s impartiality is diametrically opposed, with 78 per cent of local party representatives listing examples of biased coverage. In 21 districts, opposition candidates were denied access to radio broadcasts or stations, and in 32 districts, biased coverage against FDC, Democratic Party (DP) or Go Forward was reported” (EU EOM, 2016).
“In at least four cases, the police used teargas to disperse voters at polling stations. Only shortly before the official closing of the polling stations at 4 PM did the EC chairman announce the three-hour extension of voting in Kampala and Wakiso district. This was poorly communicated to the polling staff in affected areas, and EU EOM observers reported polling stations being closed at first and only after some hesitation did the polling staff improvise and try to re-open voting sites” (…)”Unauthorised persons were present in eight per cent of polling stations observed, and in none of them did the presiding officer requested them to leave. Essential election material was missing in 12 per cent of polling stations observed. Typically, the missing material was seals, but in a small number of cases also ballot boxes, ballot papers in sufficient numbers and the voter register was not available” (…)”In one quarter of the polling stations, observers encountered voters being turned away for not being on the voter register. Such a high percentage of voters not being aware of the location of the polling station indicates the lack of voter information prior to the elections. Only in two per cent of the polling stations visited were voters deprived of voting without lawful grounds” (EU EOM, 2016).
“In 37 per cent of polling stations observed, the Presiding Officer had difficulties completing the Declaration of Result Forms (DRF), and in almost half of the polling stations the filling in of the Accountability of Ballot Papers Form proved to be problematic. In 20 per cent of polling stations where closing was observed, the numbers in the DRFs did not reconcile. This can be attributed to malpractice, negligence and/or numerical errors. The latter two were widespread since there were neither provisions nor even proper guidelines on how to conduct the reconciliation at the polling station level. Moreover, after filling in all forms, the safety and integrity of the DRF was not ensured in 30 per cent of polling stations observed, as they were not put into the tamper-proof envelope as prescribed by EC instructions. Intimidation of polling staff during the counting was reported from four polling stations observed by the EU EOM observers. In 93 per cent of polling stations observed at closure, results were not posted outside the polling stations, as required by law. Nevertheless, party agents were given copies of the DRFs in 93 per cent of cases” (EU EOM, 2016).
“The ban on social media on mobile devices was not lifted for four consecutive days. The overall environment created by state actors during the final stages of the tallying of results curbed voters’ right to access to information as called for in Uganda’s international and regional commitments” (…)”Further constrains on the public’s access to information originated from the EC’s statement de facto prohibiting media to publicise results announced at the polling stations. Such live reports on results by polling station is a habitual and defining feature of Ugandan media’s election coverage as it enables each voter to independently verify the results in his or her polling station. With the FDC’s leadership being detained, the police surrounding Mbabazi’s home, and with critical media being effectively silenced, the EC held a monopoly over both the content of electoral results information and the pace of its disclosure” (EU EOM, 2016). “The results, however, did not contain data from 1,787 polling stations, affecting 43 districts, eight of them strongly” (EU EOM, 2016). The EC eventually updated the final result on 22 February, adding the results from 1,658 polling stations. The EC also nullified results from 129 polling stations in 34 districts due to various malpractices, including disruptions during voting and the number of votes cast exceeding 100 per cent of registered voters. However, the list of affected polling stations was not published, thus compromising the EC’s accountability” (…)”These were Jinja with 388 polling stations (PS) out of 399 missing, Rukungiri with 273 PS out of 276 missing, Kyenjojo with 277 PS out of 337 missing, Kabale 190 PS out of 478, Kampala with 162 PS out of 1,338, Wakiso 119 PS out of 1,359, Isingiro with 88 PS out of 385, and Ntungamo with 78 PS out of 432 missing. These eight districts account for 1,575 or 88.5 per cent of the missing PS” (EU EOM, 2016).
It is good to see that the Elections Observers is saying the same as so many other people have said about it. This here counters the words of Andrew Mwenda, Ofwono Opondo and President Museveni. The words that should stick to into President Museveni mind is this:
“Consequently, the legal framework contains gaps and ambiguities and therefore, in several instances, falls short of international principles for holding genuine democratic elections”.
Because he said this after the elections was over: “am glad that my people here have seen the mistake of listening to foreign meddlers.” (…) “If the international community has lost confidence in us, it is a compliment and it means we are right”.
So in his mind because the European Union now saying he is wrong and that the framework is co-operative with free and fair elections; then in the mind of President Museveni means we’re right. The President Museveni has now “won” the 7th Term and is ready for his 31 years of power. He is double the age of average aged Ugandan. So there is something missing and wished for. Therefore the ending of the tension and the presence of security outfits in nearby area. The Army and Police Force is close by and the ones that keep him in Power. Not the loyalty of the people or the legitimacy of the way he became the incumbent again! Peace.
P.S. Mr. Eduard Kukan I will be honest I had little faith in you and your mission as the fraudulent and praising foreign missions to express faith in the government they are funding through donor-aid and direct-budget funds. Therefore I thought that you would naturally say it was free and fair without hesitation. Because you went from Slovakia to go on Safari, drink some sodas and have matooki and be merry. But I am glad you did your job well, not because of your view, but because of sense observations and reports been told. That seems genuine as your concern for the maladministration and fraudulent elections you observed.
European Union Election Observation Mission – ‘Uganda Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections, 18 February 2016’ (April 2016)