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EU not to compile report for 2021 polls

Ambassador Attilio Pacifici.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The European Union (EU) delegation in Uganda says that they will not compile an official report on the 2021 polls.

According to Attilio Pacifici the European Union (EU) Ambassador, they will organize among the embassies forming the EU delegation Diplomatic Watch, which he described as an exercise of diplomats going around the country monitoring and looking at how the electoral process goes.

The EU delegation in Uganda comprises of countries like Italy, France, Denmark, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Sweden.

Ambassador Attilio told Uganda Radio Network-URN in an interview that the EU delegation hopes to put together a group of between 70 and 80 people divided into 20 teams who will traverse the country observing the election process.

Over the years, the EU has been one of the biggest international election monitors in Uganda with more than 60 election observers in the country in the last general election held in 2016.

These are usually on the ground by August ahead of the general election. In June 2020, Ambassador Attilio said that they would not deploy election observers in next year’s elections citing the absence of a notice to observers and the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, he recently wrote to the Electoral Commission expressing interest to be part of the participants. Asked about what kind of observation the delegation will participate in, Attilio said that it was not the usual but rather a Diplomatic Watch, an exercise which will not involve producing a report.

The previous EU election reports have formed the background for the demand for electoral reforms in the country.

Asked what the absence of an official EU report in the coming election means, Attilio said that it is one of the issues which have made their decision easy and difficult at the same time.

Ambassador Attilio added that they now have to strike a balance on whether to continue having an official Observer Mission that makes some recommendations and getting little out of it or not having one.

Nicolaj Hejberg Petersen, the Ambassador of Denmark revealed that during the four-day joint mission in Western and Northern Uganda, they met youth representatives from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, National Unity Platform (NUP) and Democratic Party (DP).

He appealed for dialogue as the country prepares for the general elections.

Nicolaj however noted that the EU does not support any political party but provides support to the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) which are key in observing the election for the rules to be adhered to.

Dr Roswitha Kremser, the Head of Austria Office in Uganda also appealed for dialogue and respect for human rights.

Some of the organizations already cleared to observe the 2021 election are Intellectual Aid Network Uganda, Uganda National NGO Forum, and Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) and Alliance for Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), Women’s Democracy Network-Uganda Chapter (WDN-U) and others.

The 2021 elections are scheduled to start with the Presidential and Parliamentary elections on 14th January.

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