Kampala, Saturday, 20 February 2016: COMESA Election Observer team to Uganda has completed its mission and commended voters for turning up in large numbers to exercise their constitutional right of choosing their leaders in the February 18, 2016 elections.
In a joint press briefing with the East African Community (EAC) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) election observer missions, Leader of COMESA Mission Ambassador Ashraf Gamal Rashed hailed the massive turnout in casting the ballots, and the orderly manner in which voters conducted themselves.
“The polling process was generally free, peaceful and transparent despite the logistical challenges that delayed the opening of polling stations,” Ambassador Rashed said.
The Mission made several recommendations to enhance the conduct of future electoral processes in Uganda. Among them is the need for the Electoral Commission to ensure better organization with regards to logistics such as marking of polling stations, preparation, distribution and delivery of polling materials.
It emphasized the need for a robust communication strategy that will ensure information is relayed in a timely manner from the EC to the polling stations to avoid misinterpretations and confusion that might arise due to delays.
“While noting the progress made to consolidate multi-party democracy, there is need for increased dialogue among political parties and other stakeholders to address any challenges and enhance the credibility of the electoral process and the acceptance of all parties of its outcome,” the mission leader said.
Further, he stated that the credibility and impartiality of the EC should always be maintained and urged the government to adequately provide funding should for the EC to enable it to execute its mandate effectively.
Amb. Rashed encouraged the citizens of Uganda to remain calm and address any electoral disputes that may arise through the proper legal channels.
Police are rounding up our supporters in Kampala at Wandegeya Police Station and taken straight to court and jailed. I only see Hon Nabilah Nagayi Sempala fighting for their freedom but not us. We need to amplify this. Those are voters and police will lock many to deny them chance to vote!
Hon. Nagayi Sempala written this:
“Happening now at Kagugube Court near LDC! Our FDC youth who are being rounded up are being taken to Luzira! The military and police are coordinating this! Let’s fight on! The intention is to intimidate, frustrate and break the people’s resolve to fight for democracy tomorrow”.
This here is election-rigging at it’s finest. Rounding up and spreading fear for affiliation with the wrong political party; getting detained for beeing political in the wrong party. If the NRM call this a peaceful election they are lying to the world as they are not giving peace to anybody else then themselves; as the FDC supporters getting jailed 24 hours before the polls begins. That is just a BITCH move from the NRM-Regime and their Police Force! As this can’t not be addressed and be shunned. All the Election Observation Missions and the International presens does not stop the disregard for other political stances then standing by the side of President Museveni. As this Young people who! Peace.
As Uganda prepares to elect its president on 18 February, I join all Ugandans in their hopes for an election with integrity, which will bestow legitimacy upon the winner and secure stability for the country.
Legitimacy is the crucial currency of government in our democratic age. Only elections that are transparent and fair will be regarded as legitimate, both by the people of Uganda and by the international community.
I therefore urge the government and the electoral authorities of Uganda to ensure a level playing field for all candidates, including the right to campaign free of intimidation.
I encourage the candidates and their supporters to exercise restraint in their deeds and in their rhetoric so as to ensure credible and peaceful elections, which the people of Uganda demand and deserve.
As Uganda nears its national elections on February 18, the United States supports the call by many Ugandans, including thousands of youth, for a peaceful, transparent and credible electoral process, before, during, and after the voting.
Violence or threats of violence from any group or individual are unacceptable, and those who participate in such acts – regardless of which candidate they support – must be held accountable. We call on all parties to refrain from provocative actions or rhetoric that raise tensions and that seek to divide Ugandans rather than bring them together.
We strongly urge the government and electoral authorities to ensure a level playing field and transparent process, including through fair application of the law, so that all candidates have an equal opportunity to express their views and voters have the opportunity to hear them. We look to the representatives of all parties and their supporters, as well as members of the security forces and the Crime Preventers, to support the peaceful and fair conduct of polls free from intimidation.
Uganda’s progress depends on adherence to democratic principles and processes. The United States stands by the Ugandan people as they undertake this most essential democratic endeavor.