US Ambassador to Uganda Natalie Brown and President Yoweri Museveni
US Ambassador to Uganda Natalie Brown on Wednesday announced that they would not observe the elections due to frustration by the Electoral Commission.
According to a statement by Brown, more than 75 percent of US election observers were denied accreditations by Uganda’s electoral body.
“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 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,” read the statement in part.
Brown further accused the electoral body of not providing an explanation for the decision saying diplomatic observation of elections is meant to demonstrate interest in 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 stated.
Brown also clarified that the United States has no favourite candidate in the polls and expressed concern that 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.
“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 concluded.