Kampala. While urging Ugandans to accept the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the petition challenging President Museveni’s re-election, the US has said government should in the next term institute, among others, electoral reforms.
“We encourage all Ugandans to respect the court’s decision, and express their views in a peaceful manner,” the US embassy said in a press statement on Friday.
“We hope the government will now address the grievances voiced by its own people in the wake of these elections and take the necessary steps to enact reforms that will guarantee political inclusivity, transparency, accountability and free and fair elections. Uganda’s future prosperity and democratic progress will depend on such actions,” the statement added.
The statement came after court’s dismissal of the petition, ruling that President Museveni was nominated in accordance with provisions of the Presidential Elections Act, contrary to the claims of the petitioner.
Mid last month, the US warned that Uganda government’s continued crackdown on civil liberties, if not reversed, could affect economic and political ties between the two countries. The warning was informed by a crackdown on Opposition politicians and their supporters as well as the clampdown on the media.
Civil society, Opposition political parties, the Catholic Church and private individuals made similar calls immediately after the 2001, 2006 and the 2011 general elections.
Their proposals would mean a constitutional amendment, which can be done once every 10 years or when Ugandans, through a plebiscite, overwhelming call for reforms.
Those calling for reforms wanted an independently constituted Electoral Commission (EC). The government merely changed the name of the EC to the Independent Electoral Commission. Above all, the Bill tabled by government retained the President’s power to appoint the EC’s commissioners.
Also, it did not proscribe the involvement of the army, intelligence services and police from electoral activities, which critics say creates fear among opposition supporters.