Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The chairman of the Electoral Commission Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi has scoffed at the US Mission in Uganda for cancelling its diplomatic observer mission of Uganda’s elections.
Earlier today, the mission announced the cancellation on grounds that the vast majority of its requests for observing the election were not approved by the Electoral Commission, leaving them with a skeletal team which cannot meaningfully undertake the task.
The US Ambassador to Uganda Natalie E. Brown says that the Electoral Commission had rejected more than 75 percent of the U.S. election observer accreditation’s requested. But Justice Byabakama said that the Electoral Commission Act does not mandate the commission to accredit all persons that seek clearance.
He quoted section 16 (1) of the Act which states that, “The commission may at any election accredit any individual, group or institution as an election observer.” He says the word may means that that the action is discretionary and not a right.
Byabakama added that the foreign missions were accredited using the commission’s discretion and that it’s unfortunate that they are withdrawing, and sarcastically stated that they are free to observe if they feel like.
Yesterday, the European Union delegation to Uganda announced that its offer to deploy a small team of electoral experts was not taken up by the Electoral Commission, and as such, European Union observers who were deployed across the country during elections in 2006, 2011 and 2016 will not observe the 2021 elections.
Ugandans go to the polls on Thursday to elect a president and Members of Parliament.