The European Union has described Uganda’s electoral process as already “highly tarnished” by the excessive use of force by law enforcement and security agencies.
Uganda will be going to the polls for parliamentary and presidential elections on 14 January.
The EU High Representative Josep Borrell says in a statement, that the pre-electoral cycle has been marred by violence and numerous difficulties faced by several opposition presidential candidates, civil society organisations, human rights defenders, electoral experts as well as journalists.
Several journalists have been injured in security operations that it says are to prevent the candidates and other politicians from violating laws and regulations of the electoral process.
Some members of the civil society have also been caught up in the activities and others arrested, while some have seen their activities and bank accounts frozen.
Candidates, especially presidential, have several times clashed with security and others detained and charged, while teargas has many times been used against them by law enforcers.
“At this crucial time, the EU expects transparent, inclusive and credible elections, as well as a level-playing field that allows all Ugandans to exercise their democratic rights, as candidates and as citizens, without fear of intimidation or violence,”
the envoy’s statement says. He says the crucial work of human rights defenders, journalists and civil society organisations should be supported to ensure accountability and transparency.
The European Union observers, who were deployed across the country during elections in 2006, 2011 and 2016 will not observe these elections.
“The EU’s offer to deploy a small team of electoral experts was not taken up. The role of local observers will be even more important than before,” says the statement issued today.
The EU reiterates that shared values of democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law will continue “underpinning European Union relations with Uganda in 2021 and beyond.”