US cancels observation of Uganda elections after 75% of its members denied accreditations

The United States Embassy in Uganda has cancelled its Diplomatic Observer Mission of Uganda’s Elections. According to the Embassy, the vast majority of requests for observing the election were not approved, by the Electoral Commission, leaving them with a skeletal team which cannot meaningfully undertake the task.

“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 per cent of the U.S. election observer accreditation’s requested,” she said in a statement by Ambassador Natalie E. Brown.

Ambassador Natalie says that despite their multiple requests to the Electoral Commission (EC), no explanation was provided for its decision which the Ambassador said was communicated just days before polling day. She adds that with only 15 accreditation’s approved, it is not possible for the United States to meaningfully observe the conduct of Uganda’s elections at polling sites across the country.

The Ambassador says that the US takes no side in Uganda’s upcoming elections and that they support a free, fair, peaceful, and inclusive electoral process. She also raises concern about reports that the EC has denied accreditation requests from members of other diplomatic missions and large numbers of Ugandan observers. 

“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.

Ambassador Natalie says that the absence of the robust participation of observers, particularly Ugandan observers who are answerable to their fellow citizens, the country’s elections will lack the accountability, transparency and confidence that observer missions provide. 

Natalie also says that Uganda will also miss the opportunity to benefit from observers’ insights to improve and inform future elections. Ugandans go to the polls tomorrow Thursday, January, 14 to vote for a President and Members of Parliament.

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