US demands audit of election results

Monday January 18 2021
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People line up to vote at Kibuye in Makindye Division, Kampala City. The United States called for an audit of last Thursday’s presidential and parliamentary elections, citing “credible reports” of pre-election violence and election irregularities.

By Irene Abalo Otto

KAMPALA- The United States on Sunday called for an audit of last Thursday’s presidential and parliamentary elections, citing “credible reports” of pre-election violence and election irregularities.

The Electoral Commission (EC) on Saturday declared President Museveni, who was the flag bearer of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), winner with 58.6 per cent of valid votes cast.

Voting and result tallying happened in largely information black-hole after the State shut down the Internet alongside blocking mobile money transactions. 

In a statement issued yesterday, US Department of State spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said: “We are deeply troubled by the many credible reports of security force violence during the pre-election period and election irregularities during the polls. We strongly urge independent, credible, impartial and thorough investigations into these reports and that those responsible be held accountable.”

Ortagus condemned what she called as the continuing attacks on political candidates and urged “the government to respect their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression”.

We were unable to reach Uganda’s Information minister Judith Nabakooba or Uganda Media Centre executive director Ofwono Opondo to respond to the charges by Washington. 

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In yesterday’s statement, Ortagus expressed “grave concern” about harassment of and the continued threats to civil society”. 

On Voting Day, Uganda’s security forces raided a parallel tally centre set up by the civil society at Hotel Africana in Kampala and arrested at least 35 non-governmental organisation officials who were accused of operating without accreditation to run a tally centre. 

A few weeks earlier, the government froze the bank accounts of two prominent NGOs, including the National NGO Forum, which is the umbrella body of all civil society organisations operating in the country, over allegations of terrorism financing. 
 
The US, which provides Uganda nearly $1 billion (Shs3.7 trillion) annually in bilateral assistance, yesterday asked Kampala to behave.

Whereas the statement did not specify the cases of violence, the campaign was marked by teargassing, brutalisation, and repeated arrests of mainly National Unity Platform party’s Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, and Forum for Democratic Change’s Patrick Oboi Amuriat, who came second and third, respectively, according to the results the EC released on Saturday.  

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