The United States Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie Brown (pictured) has announced that her nation will not take part in the traditional observation of the 2021 general elections after Government declined to accredit 75% of its team.
In a statement posted today, the US Envoy said that the move followed the decision by Electoral Commission denying more than 75 percent of the U.S. election observer team accreditations requested.
“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,” Ambassador Brown said.
She added that despite multiple requests, the Electoral Commission provided no explanation for its decision, having communicated mere days before the elections.
The US Envoy defended the need for US to take part in observing the elections saying the purpose of a diplomatic observation of elections is to demonstrate their 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,” said Brown.
She described as troubling EC’s decision to decline the US team, arguing that in the past, 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,” she said.
However, it isn’t only US that Government has pulled a plug on, Ambassador Brown reported that other missions are suffering similar fate.
“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,” read in part the statement.
She said that the absence and robust participation of observers, will render Uganda’s elections void of 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,” read in part the statement.
The development points to the continued frosty relations between Uganda and its western powers that President Yoweri Museveni has accused of fueling unrest within Uganda and funding the opposition, although the President has neither named the particular nations, nor provided evidence to back up his claims.
US’ statement is in contrast to that of its archrival, China that distanced itself in affairs regarding the upcoming general elections in Uganda.
The Chinese Embassy in Uganda wrote on its Twitter, “Chinese President Xi Jinping once said that major countries should act like major countries. Major countries should be the first to abide by the basic norms governing international relations, the first to adhere to non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs……, the first to help small and medium-sized developing countries, and the first to shoulder their due international responsibilities.”
US has been receiving attacks from both Government, accusing them of being agents of imperialism, while the Opposition accuses US of enabling the brutality meted on them and their supporters by security forces, because US Government funds and trains the police and army, resources the armed forces turn to citizens instead of Uganda’s adversaries.