UGANDA DECIDES

US will not observe Uganda elections, says Ambassador Brown

Brown says with the absence of observers Uganda’s elections will lack the accountability, transparency and confidence

In Summary

• US envoy says the cancellation had been informed by the decision by the Electoral Commission of Uganda to deny election observers accreditations.  

• She said that despite multiple requests, the Electoral Commission provided no explanation for its decision.

US Ambassador to Uganda H.E Natalie E. Brown during a past function.
US Ambassador to Uganda H.E Natalie E. Brown during a past function.
Image: COURTESY

The United States will not observe Uganda elections on Thursday, Ambassador Natalie Brown has said.

Through a statement on Wednesday, the US Ambassador to Uganda said the cancellation had been informed by the decision by the Electoral Commission of Uganda to deny more than 75 per cent of the US election observer 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,” Brown said.

She said that despite multiple requests, the Electoral Commission provided no explanation for its decision, “which it communicated mere days before the elections”. 

Brown noted that they had complied with all Electoral Commission accreditation requirements, as they had in previous elections in Uganda. 

“The purpose of a diplomatic observation of elections is to demonstrate our interest in a free, fair, peaceful, and inclusive electoral process," she said.

"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.”

She said that America supports a free, fair, peaceful, and inclusive electoral process.  

For Uganda’s 2016 elections, the US Mission dispatched 88 diplomatic election observers.  

She further said that they are concerned about reports that the Electoral Commission had 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,” she said in the statement.

Brown said with the absence 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.