The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) was launched on 19th August 2009. CCEDU is a broad coalition that brings together over 850 like-minded civil society organizations and over 25,000 individuals to advocate for electoral democracy in Uganda. The CCEDU secretariat is hosted by the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI). CCEDU’s vision is to realize a Uganda where the principles and practices of electoral democracy are upheld. Its mission is to advance integrity and citizen participation in Uganda’s electoral process. CCEDU carries out its work in all districts and regions of Uganda. Since its establishment, CCEDU has been a leading player in advocacy for electoral reforms, observation of general and by-elections and civic/voter education campaigns.
CCEDU has a special mandate to observe Elections in conformity with the relevant international instruments governing election observation and the Constitution and National Laws of the Republic of Uganda
This statement presents the preliminary observations on the opening and setup process of the CCEDU Election Observation Mission in the five districts. CCEDU share a more detailed report with once more information has been received from our observers.
In August 2015, government approved the creation of new districts. Subsequently, the EC, on 30 June 2016, announced the programme for Parliamentary and Local Government Councils election in five of the newly created districts namely Kakumiro and Kagadi curved out of Kibaale district; Rubanda curved out of present day Kabale district and Omoro curved out of present day Gulu district. The offices for election are: District Woman Member of Parliament, Local Council V chairpersons and Youth representative.
In line with its mission to enhance integrity, transparency and active citizen participation in Uganda’s electoral processes, CCEDU commissioned an election observation mission in the five (5) districts, to observe the pre-election, Election Day and post-election periods.
CCEDU has deployed 100 polling station observers distributed proportionally in all the 49 sub counties that make up the five districts. These have been stationed across all the 49 sub counties to observe and report on the Election Day processes at the polling stations. (See Annex of CCEDU Observer Distribution in the 5 districts). These 100 observers are supported by 5 district supervisors, one in each district. Additionally CCEDU members and staff of CCEDU secretariat are on ground supplementing reports from the stationary observers.
PRELIMINARY ELECTION DAY FINDINGS
The conduct of the elections was guided by the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, the Parliamentary Elections Act 2005, the Local Government Act 1997 as amended and the Electoral Commission Act 1997.
This statement is based on observer reports and incidents filed by all the 100 observers deployed in the 5 districts as at 11:40 am focusing on the opening and setup process.
Findings on Set-up and Opening Process:
On the opening and set up process, CCEDU has observed the following:
• Polling officials had arrived only in 28 polling stations of the 100 polling stations by 6:30am. Although Omoro had a higher presence of polling officials, on the contrary, polling officials in Kakumiro, Kagadi, Kibaale and Rubanda districts were not present at polling stations by 6:30 which affected the opening of most polling stations.
• The Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Acts as amended provide for polling to begin at 7:00am and end at 4:00pm. By 7:00am, only 10 polling stations out of the 100 polling stations observed in the five districts had opened. Although most of the polling stations (72 of 100 polling stations) observed had opened by 8:00am. 27 polling stations opened after 8:30am.
• Although 91 of 100 polling stations observed had all strategic materials, 5 polling stations in Kagadi, Kakumiro and Rubanda were missing indelible ink and 1 polling station in Rubanda was missing the voter register.
• In line with Objective VI of the national objectives and directive principles of state policy, which provides for gender balance in all government institutions, out of the 4 polling officials in the 100 polling stations observed, at least 2 of polling officials were women.
• In most of the polling stations observed, polling officials followed procedure by observing the presence of at least 5 registered voters in 95 of the 100 polling stations observed. Additionally, polling officials in 95 of the 100 polling stations observed displayed ballot boxes to be empty before voting commenced observed and in 93 of 100 polling stations observed polling officials followed the set procedure of sealing ballot boxes before voting commenced.
• CCEDU observers have also noted the presence of party agents across all districts. NRM party agents were present in all the 5 districts (in 96 of the 100 polling stations observed), Independent candidates agents present in Kagadi, Kakumiro, Omoro and Rubanda (in 75 of the 100 polling stations observed) and FDC party agents present in Kagadi, Kibaale, Omoro and Rubanda (in 58 polling stations observed.) However UPC, DP and PP party agents presence is limited to Omoro district.
The following critical incidents have been reported and confirmed by CCEDU observers between 7:00am and 11:40am:
• Biometric Voter verification systems malfunctioned in Kibaale District, Buyanja County, and Matale A Sub-county and at Nkooko B polling station, Bugangaizi East County, Kakumiro District.
• Voter bribery has been reported in Bubare C polling station, Rubanda county East in Rubanda District.
• A fight between agents of an NRM candidate and an agent of an Independent candidate were reported and confirmed at Birembo A Sub-county, Bugangaizi West County in Kakumiro District.
• In Kyanyi Polling station, polling station code 01 in Nyamarinda Sub-county, Kibaale district, it was observed that 4 people known to be deceased had their names ticked in the voter’s register as though the deceased had voted.
• Kakumiro community radio was reported to have been campaigning for an NRM candidate in Kakumiro town council, Kakumiro district.
• Agents of independent candidates were said to have manhandled an agent for the NRM candidate at Kakindo sub-county, Bugangaizi West county, Kakumiro district.
CCEDU remains committed to objectively observing and reporting on the elections as they unfold in the five districts. We shall provide a comprehensive statement on the polling and closing, counting and tabulation processes tomorrow August 30 at 10:00am.
We urge voters to remain peaceful and come out in large numbers to exercise their right to vote.
For God and my country.