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‘When Uganda sneezes, East Africa catches a cold’

Head of the EAC Election Observer Mission Domitien Ndayizeye has flagged off the Elections Observer Mission to Uganda. PHOTO @jumuiya

Arusha, Tanzania | THE INDEPENDENT | Former Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye has called for transparency and peace in the forthcoming polls, and cautions that whatever happens in Uganda will impact the entire East African Region.

Ndayizeye was flagging off the team of 74 EAC Mission Election Observers drawn from the East African Legislative Assembly, East African Court of Justice, EAC Secretariat and the Electoral Management bodies, Ministries of EAC Affairs and Human Rights Commissions of the EAC Partner States.

“EAC believes that regional observation can play a critically important supportive role that would enhance the credibility of the elections, reinforce the work of domestic observer groups and increase public confidence in the entire electoral process,” Ndayizeye said.

He said, maintaining international confidence in Uganda is crucial for the growth of the East African brand. Uganda is a leading trade exporter  to all the East African countries, and leading importer as well.

For the first time in history in 2018, Uganda had a favorable balance of trade with Kenya.

In the Financial Year 2017/18, Uganda had a trade surplus of $122.78 million with Kenya (Exports of $628.47 million against Imports of $505.70 million). Maize imports by Kenya from Uganda played a significant part in the change of fortune.

Uganda also registered a record highest trade balance in the East African Community (EAC) region of $413.86 million (Exports of $1,220.63 million against Imports of $806.77 million), in the same period.

Focus on Uganda

Ndayizeye says that in its assessment of the electoral process, the mission would be guided by the democratic principles and values outlined in the African Charter for Democracy, Elections and Governance, and the EAC Principles for Election Observation and Evaluation.

The observers will be stationed in the districts of Kampala, Masaka, Gulu, Arua, Mubende, Masindi, Soroti, Mbale, Mbarara, Kasese and Moroto for observance of the national elections.

“I want thank the people of Uganda for conducting themselves with maturity so far, and urge all political actors to ensure the election is peaceful and ends amicably. The media should report objectively,” Ndayizeye said.

Ndayizeye, who is also the Head of Mission said that the mission aims at contributing to strengthening political accountability amongst political actors and the Government of Uganda in addition to providing an opportunity for the other EAC Partner States to share experiences on election management with a view to learning from each other and sharing best practices.

He said that the mission was in line with Article 3 (3) of the Treaty for Establishment of the EAC, which requires the Partner States to adhere to the universally accepted principles of good governance, human rights and social justice.

As part of its mandate, the EAC mission is expected to assess the legitimacy of the electoral processes and outcome in accordance with internationally accepted standards, and make recommendations for strengthening of electoral processes for the benefit of not only the Republic of Uganda but for the EAC region as a whole.

The 2016 EAC mission report recommended that the Executive and Parliament in Uganda should re-evaluate the decision for the removal of presidential term limits in the electoral system, consider the introduction of a legal framework to regulate campaign financing in order to promote an equal playing field for all parties and candidates in the electoral process and explore legal mechanisms for controlling the negative use of youth by Political Parties and Candidates.

The team that was headed by Ali Hassan Mwinyi, the former President of Tanzania, also recommended that the Electoral Commission improves the logistics and operational plan and implementation to ensure timely distribution of electoral materials among others.

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