The excessive use of force by law enforcement and security agencies has seriously tarnished Uganda’s electoral process, the EU has said.
High Representative Josep Borrell said the EU and other partners have noted the pre-electoral cycle has been marred by violence and difficulties faced by several opposition presidential candidates, civil society organisations, human rights defenders, electoral experts and journalists.
President Yoweri Museveni is battling it out with youthful opposition figure Bibi Wine.
Borrell, however, said the EU expects transparent, inclusive and credible elections, as well as a level-playing field that allows all to exercise their democratic rights, as candidates and as citizens, without fear.
He said the crucial work of human rights defenders, journalists and civil society organisations should be supported to ensure accountability and transparency.
“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,” he said.
This is as US also cancelled observing the general election that takes place on Thursday, January 14.
In a statement on Wednesday, US Ambassador to Uganda Natalie Brown said the mission will not observe Uganda elections.
Brown said the cancellation was informed by the decision by the Electoral Commission of Uganda to deny more than 75 per cent of the US election observer accreditations requested.
“With only 15 accreditations approved, it is not possible for the United States to meaningfully observe the conduct of Uganda’s elections at polling sites across the country,” Brown said.
She said that despite multiple requests, the Electoral Commission provided no explanation for its decision, “which it communicated mere days before the elections”.