Kampala: The US embassy in Uganda has announced that it will not be involved in the observation of January 14, 2021, Ugandan elections following a decision by the Electoral Commission to deny more than 75 per cent of US accreditation requests.
This development has been the announcement by the US Head of Mission to Uganda, HE,Natalie Brown on Twitter after tweeting thus;
“It is with profound disappointment that I announce 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 accreditation requested.”
HE, Brown adds that with only 15 accreditation approved, it is not possible for the United States to meaningfully observe the conduct of Uganda’s elections at polling sites across the country.
She expresses her anger saying that they had lodged several requests but the EC turned them down with no specific reason and communicated just days before elections.
The purpose of a diplomatic observation of elections is to demonstrate an 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.
The Government of Uganda has supported U.S. observer efforts in previous Ugandan elections. But HE, Brown says EC’s decision this time to deny accreditation to all but a small, randomly selected handful of their observers is more troubling.
“As we have stated previously, the United States takes no side in Uganda’s upcoming elections. We support a free, fair, peaceful, and inclusive electoral process. For Uganda’s 2016 elections, the U.S. Mission dispatched 88 diplomatic election observers,
For the January 14 election, the U.S. Mission complied with all Electoral Commission accreditation requirements, as we had in previous elections in Uganda, but the vast majority of our requests for 2021 were not approved,” she noted.
She also revealed that they have reports the Electoral Commission has denied accreditation requests from members of other diplomatic missions and large numbers of Ugandan observers.
She added, “Numerous civil society organizations planned to observe the elections, but many have not heard back from the Electoral Commission on their accreditation applications. Among those civil society organizations which already had organizational accreditation, the vast majority of their individual observers have not yet – two days ahead of elections – received accreditation badges.”
Brown asserts that the absence of observers most particularly local ones who are answerable to their fellow citizens, Uganda’s elections will lack the accountability, transparency, and confidence and the country will also miss the opportunity to benefit from observers’ insights to improve and inform future elections.