The European Union will not deploy an observer mission for Uganda’s presidential election in January, Mr Attilio Pacifici, EU ambassador and head of delegation to Uganda says, after complaints that advice from previous observers to make the polls fair went unheeded.
In the January 14, 2020 vote, President Yoweri Museveni, 76, will face off against journalist Joseph Kabuleeta, Maj Gen (rtd) Gregory Mugisha Muntuyera, Lt Gen (rtd) Henry Tumukunde and pop star and lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi, widely known by his music moniker Bobi Wine among others.
In the same election, voters will also pick their lawmakers.
“An EOM (election observer mission) will not be present in Uganda in 2021,” Mr Pacifici told Reuters in an email yesterday.
He said in taking a decision not to send observers, the EU had considered whether Uganda had “made progress on recommendations provided by previous EU electoral missions.”
The EU typically sends the largest team of any similar blocs – a total of 94 monitors were sent at the last poll – and they have stayed in the country sometimes for up to three months.
According to an EU 2018 report, none of the 30 recommendations made by the observer mission sent to monitor the last election in 2016 was implemented.
The recommendations included reforms to make the poll body more independent, elimination of excessive use of force by the armed forces and more transparency in tallying.
Government spokesman, Ofwono Opondo and Museveni’s spokesman, Don Wanyama, were not immediately available for comment.
“What the EU observers do is to add an international flavour of scrutiny, that element now will not be there in 2021,” said Mr Chrispin Kaheru, a Kampala-based political analyst.
Presidential contenders have complained of harassment and intimidation by security forces.
Yesterday (Monday), police in Masindi blocked Mr Kabuleta from holding a campaign rally saying he did not adhere to guidelines aimed to stem down the spread of Covid-19.