Gen. Museveni Deploys Military In Uganda, Meanwhile U.S. Won’t Observe Today’s Elections

U.S. won't observe Uganda vote
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Ambasador Brown. Photo: Twitter


Heading into today’s election in Uganda, the United States embassy canceled its plans to observe the vote after Gen. Yoweri Museveni’s regime provided accreditation to only 15 observers.


The election has been marred by violence from security forces loyal to Museveni who seems on the verge of being defeated by his principal rival 38-year-old Member of Parliament named Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a. Bobi Wine, who enjoys massive youth support. He’s managed to get millions of young voters to register to vote—80% of the population is under the age of 35. 


The regime has panicked in the last week, cutting off social media and blanketing Uganda with a communications blackout. The military have been deployed all over the country with armored vehicles driving menacingly through the cities. 


The U.S. announced the cancelations yesterday, as Ugandans head to the polls today, Jan. 14. 


The Electoral Commission, whose members are hand-picked by Gen. Museveni denied three-quarters of the U.S. Mission’s accreditation request to observe the election. “It is with profound disappointment that I announce the 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,” the U.S. ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown, said. “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.”


She added, “Despite multiple requests, the Electoral Commission provided no explanation for its decision, which it communicated mere days before the 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.”


“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.


We are further concerned by reports 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. 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,” ambassador Brown said.


The EU withdrew plans to observe the elections much earlier. 


The regime forces have killed, or beaten opposition supporters. Both Bobi Wine, who heads the National Unity Platform ticket, and Patrick Oboi Amuriat, running on the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), ticket have been arrested numerous times. The military have taken over police operations around the country.

Columnist Kakwenza Rukirabashaija can be reached via 

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