Regional observers start election work

Former Burundi president Domitien Ndayizeye (with flag) and other East African Community officials flag off vehicles with 74 members of the observer mission in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA.

What you need to know:

  • They are to reinforce the work of domestic election observers and make recommendations for the partner states.
  • In 2016 elections, the mission sent only 17 observers.

The East African Community (EAC) yesterday flagged off a 74-man election observer mission team to monitor Uganda’s presidential and parliamentary elections due tomorrow.

In 2016 elections, the mission sent only 17 observers. 
The trained team is to travel and observe elections in 12 districts; Kampala, Masaka, Gulu, Arua, Mubende, Masindi, Soroti, Mbale, Mbarara, Kabale, Kasese and Moroto.

They are to reinforce the work of domestic election observers and make recommendations for the partner states.

“It is not our role to change what Uganda does. Our work is to observe and report. We are coming for observation but where we can, we shall advise. You (Ugandans) must make your own decisions. The objective of the mission will be to observe the electoral process and offer a balanced assessment of the election,” Mr Domitien Ndayizeye, former Burundi president and head of the EAC mission, told journalists in Kampala on Sunday. 

He was accompanied by EAC Secretary General Liberat Mfumukeko and other staff from East African Legislative Assembly, the East African Court of Justice and EAC Secretariat.

The head of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) election observance mission, Mr Siraj Fegessa, on Monday also said they have also deployed their team in Uganda but only in five districts due to limited funding and manpower.

He said they will monitor elections in Kampala, Mukono, Wakiso, Luweero and Mpigi.

“The Igad observer team will convene in Kampala after the counting process upon which a preliminary report will be prepared and released on a date to be advised soon,” Mr Fegessa said.

“We came up with a lot of issues to be discussed but for we deployed our teams to these five district areas to take a sample. We have limited capacity in personnel as well as other areas. We hope the samples we get from these observations will give us the necessary information going on in the country,” he said.

Meanwhile, another group comprising women election observers have deployed in selected districts to monitor election violence.

The Women Situation Room, an African Union initiative, said they have deployed 1,500 election observers in 30 districts across the country, which are prone to violence.

Speaking at the launch of the physical rooms for monitoring the  elections at Sheraton Kampala Hotel on Monday, Ms Judy Kamanyi one of the officials, said this time they are watching elections in 30 districts where elections were violent during the 2016 election and the NRM primaries.

“In 2016, we monitored elections in 15 districts where violence was prone during elections and unfortunately, there was another 15 districts where violence was registered during the NRM primaries,” she said.

Ms Kamanyi said the regional situation rooms located in Mbarara, Soroti Gulu and Kampala, are a women-led initiative established in Liberia during the 2011 elections and adopted by the African Union as a mechanism for monitoring violent and tense situations during elections. She named the violence-prone districts as Gulu, Amuru, Koboko, Arua, Kitgum, Lamwo and Nwoya in northern Uganda.

In central region, the observation, stationed at Sheraton Kampala Hotel, will monitor Kampala, Wakiso, Masaka, Luweero, Mityana, Sembabule and Kassanda.

In eastern region, the women observer team named Serere, Iganga, Jinja, Mbale, Katakwi, Bugiri and Soroti districts which they will be monitoring for violence while in western region, they listed Mbarara, Isingiro, Kasese, Ntungamo, Kabale, Rukungiri, Kanungu and Rubanda.