As Ugandans gear up for general elections in January, the United States government has called upon political parties, candidates, and supporters to promote a peaceful and transparent electoral process.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the US Mission Uganda said they will pay close attention to actions of all individuals and organizations involved in 2021 elections and they will not hesitate to consider consequences for those found to be responsible for election-related violence.
“The United States, along with other democratic countries, will pay close attention to actions of individuals and organizations who interfere in the democratic process or instigate violence against the civilian population before, during, or after the elections. We will not hesitate to consider consequences for those found to be responsible for election-related violence or undermining the democratic process” the statement reads in part.
According to the US government, delivering a free, fair, inclusive, and peaceful election is vital to Uganda’s democracy and international reputation as a strong and stable regional leader.
“We call on all political parties, candidates, and supporters to promote a peaceful and transparent electoral process. We support those working to achieve that goal” the statement adds.
The statement further reaffirmed that the United States government does not support any specific candidate or party in Uganda’s upcoming elections but only supports the democratic process itself.
According to the statement, the US’s interest in the forthcoming elections includes ensuring safety of candidates, rule of law and fairness in management of elections.
“As Secretary Pompeo recently stated, we are committed to supporting free, fair, inclusive elections. This includes ensuring the safety of all candidates, respect for the rule of law, and the impartiality of the authorities in charge of managing the elections” The US mission noted.
The warning from the US government comes barely a few days to commencement of campaigns in Uganda which are largely predicted to pit the opposition against state security agencies after several politicians openly declared they will not abide by guidelines set by authorities in prevention of COVID-19 spread.
According to the set guidelines, mass rallies are banned though regulated public meetings are allowed. However, the guidelines require venue owners to work and attain a nod from police to have their venues verified for compliance.
Meetings for politicians with voters are limited to only 70 people which some politicians claim is not applicable.
All venues for meetings require to be fitted with handwashing facilities, all congregants must put on masks all the time and the curfew order enforced from 9:00PM to 6:30AM must be respected.
There has also been complaints in the opposition over access to media platforms that present an alternative medium for voter-candidate interaction within COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
The opposition in Uganda though fragmented, are working to unseat the incumbent Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for close to 35 years. Museveni has already been declared as the flag-bearer for the ruling National Resistance Movement in the forthcoming 2021 elections with an opportunity to extend his rule to 40 years.
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