U.S. cancels diplomatic observation of Uganda election


FILE PHOTO | Uganda President Yoweri Museveni with U.S. envoy Natalie Brown.
FILE PHOTO | Uganda President Yoweri Museveni with U.S. envoy Natalie Brown.

U.S. Ambassador Natalie Brown has announced cancellation of diplomatic observation of the Uganda election set for Thursday.

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She expressed her dismay over the decision by the Electoral Commission of Uganda to deny over 75 percent of the U.S. election observer accreditations that were 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,” Amb. Brown said in a statement.

According to the envoy, the Electoral Commission provided no explanation for its decision which it communicated just days before the elections.

She noted that the Ugandan Government has supported such U.S. observer efforts in multiple previous Ugandan elections.  For Uganda’s 2016 elections, the U.S. Mission dispatched 88 diplomatic election observers.

The American ambassador said the U.S. Mission had complied with all accreditation requirements for Thursday’s election but the vast majority of requests were not approved.

“This makes the decision now to deny accreditation to all but a small, randomly selected handful of our observers all the more troubling,” Amb. Brown added.

She further raised concern over reports that the Electoral Commission has also denied accreditation requests from members of other diplomatic missions and large numbers of Ugandan observers.

Numerous civil society organizations are said to have planned to observe the elections, but many have not heard back from the Electoral Commission on their accreditation applications.

“Absent the robust participation of observers, particularly Ugandan observers who are answerable to their fellow citizens, Uganda’s elections will lack the accountability, transparency and confidence that observer missions provide.  Uganda will also miss the opportunity to benefit from observers’ insights to improve and inform future elections,” Amb. Brown said.

Ugandans vote on Thursday in a election pitting long-time leader Yoweri Museveni against 10 candidates including opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine, a singer-turned-lawmaker whose star power has rattled the ruling party.

 

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