With just hours left to the polls tomorrow, the US embassy in Uganda has announced they will not be involved in the observation of Ugandan elections.
According US Head of Mission to Uganda, Ms. Natalie Brown this development follows a decision by the Electoral Commission to deny more than 75 percent of their accreditation requests for them to be able to carry out their observations.
“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 percent of the U.S. election observer accreditation requested. 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,” Ms. Brown noted.
Ms. Brown further noted 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 our 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 such U.S. observer efforts in multiple previous Ugandan elections. This makes the decision now to deny accreditation to all but a small, randomly selected handful of our observers all the more troubling,” she said.
“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 added.
She also noted that they have reports the Electoral Commission has denied accreditation requests from members of other diplomatic missions and large numbers of Ugandan observers.
“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. 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,” she said.