The Head of Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Uganda, Ambassador Attilio Pacifici has said that the EU will not deploy election observers as Uganda votes in 2021.
The EU has been one of the biggest international election monitors in Uganda over the years, with more than 60 election observers in the country in the last general election held in 2016.
Ambassador Pacifici told Uganda Radio Network that the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the electoral process and the plan to deploy observers in the country. He however said that they will use the domestic mechanism of collaborating with the Electoral Commission (EC) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to devise ways of supporting them to effectively monitor the upcoming election.
The Ambassador emphasized that it is logistically impossible for the EU to observe the 2021 general election and that they also need to feel welcome to the point of being invited as observers since this has not happened yet.
He says that usually, the EU has its observers on ground by August ahead of the February general election but in the absence of a notice to observers coupled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the preparation process is impossible.
The Electoral Commission Chairman Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama on Tuesday made a pronouncement to ban open-air campaigns in the run-up to the 2021 general elections. Byabakama said that in order to comply with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health to limit the spread of Coronavirus Disease COVID-19, the only campaign mode that will be allowed is using the media for all the candidates seeking elective positions.
The pronouncement not to have a conventional election where mass gatherings are held came in a revised electoral roadmap. Asked about the new road map, Ambassador Pacifici said that the process is new for everyone and called for dialogue between each stakeholder to ensure a fair 2021 general election.
He maintained that the process is already challenging enough and that the authorities need to make the right decisions given the situation. He also noted that its unfortunate that earlier recommendations made by the EU election observers have not been considered.
The new election roadmap has received different reactions from stakeholders with different political players and commentators describing it as impractical, illegal, biased and in bad fa