By Bill Oketch
The United States has announced cancellation of the diplomatic observer mission of Uganda’s election saying they were denied accreditation from the government.The U.S ambassador to Uganda, Ms Natalie Brown in a statement Wednesday, said the Electoral Commission of Uganda denied more than 75 per cent of their election observer accreditation requests.“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. Despite multiple requests, the EC provided no explanation for its decision, which it communicated mere days before the elections,” she said.The purpose of a diplomatic observation of elections is to demonstrate interests 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. “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,” Ms Natalie explained.She added that they are concerned by reports that the EC has denied accreditation requests from members of other diplomatic missions and large numbers of Ugandan observers. Advertisement
“Numerous civil society organizations planned to observe the elections, but many have not heard back from the EC on their accreditation applications. Without a robust participation of observers, particularly Ugandan observers who are answerable to their fellow citizens, the 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,” Ms Natalie said.