The Citizens Election Observers Network – Uganda (CEON-U) is a consortium of 18 (eighteen) national and 23 sub national civil society organisations which have agreed to conduct a unified, comprehensive and effective citizen election observation mission for the 2016 general elections. The consortium aims to enhance the integrity of the election process by providing evidence-based, impartial assessments, deterring and exposing irregularities, and increasing citizen participation in Uganda’s electoral process. SUMMARY CEON-U deployed more than 1250 observers for Election Day to all 290 constituencies across all 112 districts. This included conducting a sample-based observation (SBO), which involved deploying 700 sample-based observers deployed to a random, representative sample of polling stations. The SBO methodology provides the most accurate, timely, datadriven, and comprehensive picture of Election Day conduct.

The Citizens Election Observers Network – Uganda (CEON-U) is a consortium of 18 (eighteen) national and 23 sub national civil society organisations which have agreed to conduct a unified, comprehensive and effective citizen election observation mission for the 2016 general elections. The consortium aims to enhance the integrity of the election process by providing evidence-based, impartial assessments, deterring and exposing irregularities, and increasing citizen participation in Uganda’s electoral process. SUMMARY CEON-U deployed more than 1250 observers for Election Day to all 290 constituencies across all 112 districts. This included conducting a sample-based observation (SBO), which involved deploying 700 sample-based observers deployed to a random, representative sample of polling stations. The SBO methodology provides the most accurate, timely, datadriven, and comprehensive picture of Election Day conduct.

From September 2015-January 30, 2016, CEON-U also deployed 223 long term observers in 112 districts of Uganda. The LTOs were responsible for observing the pre-election process. In addition, some of the organizations under CEON-U also observed specific aspects of the election including: media, campaign financing, security and gender and women’s participation.

CEON-U finds that the Election Day process was relatively peaceful. However, the Electoral Commission fell short of administering its logistical functions in certain districts. Polling officials knew polling day procedures and generally followed the legal provisions on opening of the polling station, set up, voting, closing and counting. However, significant shortcomings in the pre-election process undermined the credibility of the overall election process. CEON-U recognizes that voting will continue today in certain polling stations in will continue to monitor tabulation and post-election processes. We anticipate issuing a statement on the remaining processes, including the conduct of the tabulation process following the Electoral Commission’s official announcement of results. CEON-U will not announce any results projections. We will also issue a final report in the coming weeks.

2 PRELIMINARY ELECTION DAY FINDINGS The conduct of the presidential and parliamentary elections was guided by the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, the Presidential Elections Act, Parliamentary Elections Act and the Electoral Commission Act. The Electoral Commission also issued Guidelines at various stages of the electoral process to guide the conduct of the elections. With 99% of CEON-U’s sample-based observers reporting, CEON-U has summarized its preliminary findings below. Set-up and Opening CEON-U reported its preliminary assessment of the set-up and opening process on the morning of Election Day. We present below updated findings, based on additional observer reports received since then.  The presidential and parliamentary elections Acts as amended provide for polling to begin at 7:00am and end at 4:00pm Forty one (41)% of polling stations countrywide opened after 8am. Four (4)% of polling stations had not opened as of 8:30am.  Although 95% of polling stations had all strategic materials, the other polling stations were missing at least one of the following: ballot boxes, voter register, ballot papers, indelible ink, Biometric Voter Verification System (BVVS) or Declaration of Results Form. 

CEON-U notes verified incidents of delays in dispatching critical voting materials in districts such as Kampala, Wakiso, Jinja, and Kaliro, which led to polling commencing as late as 3:00pm in some stations. In others, voting did not take place. As a result, the Electoral Commission gazetted polling day for affected polling stations in Makindye division and Kyebando in Wakiso district for 19 February 2016 and extended voting in some polling stations in Kampala to 7:00pm. Despite the actions taken by the Electoral Commission to ensure that voters affected in the mentioned polling stations vote, CEON-U is concerned that some voters may be disenfranchised due to failure to receive the information and fatigue experienced on the 18 February 2016. 

In line with Objective VI of the national objectives and directive principles of state policy, which provides for gender balance in all government institutions. Forty (40% of polling officials were women. 

Ninety-nine (99)% of poll officials sealed ballot boxes before voting commenced. However in 10 polling stations poll officials did not seal the ballot boxes. Voting During the voting process, polling officials at most polling stations followed procedures, Biometric Voter Verification System (BVVS) functioned well, with some problems.

However, there were some problems with voters, including a high percentage of voters assisted by unauthorized persons.  In 90% of polling stations, voters were checked for ink before receiving a ballot. 3  In 89% of polling stations the BVVS functioned properly. Among the 10% that malfunctioned, 65% were fixed and 13% were replaced. In 1% of polling stations, there were no BVVS.  Polling officials were sufficiently able to use the BVVS machines in 91% of polling stations.  In 87%, polling officials instructed voters on voting procedures.  In 80% of polling stations, voters were able to vote in secret.  73% of locations did not have unauthorized personnel present inside the polling station.

However, crime preventers were present in 13% of polling stations.  91% of polling stations did not have incidents of intimidation, harassment or violence during the voting. Among the 9% of polling stations that had such incidents, election officials were the targets in 34%, party agents in 24%, observers in 6%, and voters in 39%.  In 69% of polling stations some (1 – 14) voters were assisted to vote. Party agents assisted voters in 13% of those polling stations, which is contrary to the law.

 During voting, party agents of Amama Mbabazi were present in 41% of polling stations. Party agents of Yoweri Museveni were present in 95% of polling stations. Party agents of Kizza Besigye were present in 84% of polling stations.  In 87% of polling stations where voting took place, all voters in queue by 4pm were able to vote. Closing and Counting  In 99% of polling stations, polling officials sorted ballots in full view of the candidates’ agents.  69% polling stations did not have unauthorized personnel present during counting. However, 15% of polling stations had crime preventers present.

 Party agents are useful in an election because they can deter fraud especially if they are vigilant and loyal to their candidate/party. During counting, party agents of Amama Mbabazi were present in 45% of polling stations. Party agents of Yoweri Museveni were present in 98% of polling stations. Party agents of Kizza Besigye were present in 93% of polling stations.  Where party agents of Amama Mbabazi were present, his agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 45% of polling stations. Where his agents were present, 4% refused to sign.  Where agents of Yoweri Museveni were present, his agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 97% of polling stations.

Where his agents were present, 3% refused to sign.  Where party agents of Kizza Besigye were present, his agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 93% of polling stations. Where his agents were present, 2% refused to sign.  Presidential election results were posted publicly at 91% of polling stations.

4 ELECTORAL CONTEXT Legal framework: Some aspects of the legal framework provided a basis for holding free and fair elections in Uganda. However, there were some provisions within the law that should be amended to ensure that elections are free and fair. For instance, the introduction of new nomination fees scales for presidential and parliamentary elections within a period of one month to the presidential elections and two months to the parliamentary elections, led to some aspiring candidates dropping out of the race. Administration of the Elections: Article 62 of the Constitution states that the EC shall be independent. Article 61 gives the Electoral Commission powers to organize, conduct and supervise the election.

The lack of trust by the opposition and a section of the Ugandan population in the Electoral Commission as evidenced by pre-polling opinion polls and the National Compact for Electoral Reforms indicates the need for electoral reforms. Voters register: Legal and procedural discrepancies in the process of compiling the national voters register may have eroded public trust in the integrity of the register. Voter Information and Education: The electoral process was affected by limited voter education by the Electoral Commission.

However this improved as the campaigns were coming to an end. Campaigns: The election campaigns were generally peaceful and candidates were largely free to traverse the country and seek for votes. However, the commercialization of Ugandan politics affected some candidates particularly women from reaching out to voters to seek for support. Violence also marred the campaigns in districts like Ntungamo, Gulu, Bukwo and Kampala among others.

The campaigns also registered some complaints including threatening violence, assault and tearing posters. These, however, did not have a major impact on the campaigns. Gender and women’s participation: Overall the numbers of candidates contesting for positions at parliamentary level increased in comparison to 2011. Despite the constitutional provisions on gender equality and women’s equal participation with men in politics, the number women as candidates has not improved much. With regard to Members of Parliament on the direct seat, only 6% of women are contesting for this position in comparison to 94% male. The number of men and women independent candidates for both open MP seats and district women seats was more than those standing on party tickets. Media: The media has played a major role in educating and informing citizens on the elections.

The media has also exposed shortcomings and positive aspects of the electoral process. CEON-U applauds the media for providing dedicated space for elections in their various publications and the internet. Social media has played a role in informing Ugandans despite its misuse in some instances. The decision by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to limit access to social media to Ugandans on election day denied citizens freedom to report incidents and affected transparency on election day. Harassment of the media during the electoral process led to self-censorship and denial of access to media platforms for some candidates. This hindered the media from performing its roles 5 during elections. Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) has again failed to meet the standards required of it in the law.

Security in the elections: The public order management act have been interpreted by security forces unequally amongst the candidates and parties. During the campaigns the police exercised some restraint but were accused of failing to conclude some crimes during the campaigns especially disappearances of some supporters of opposition presidential candidates. The role of militia groups including Kifasi and crime preventers among others in the election created doubts in Ugandans on whether the elections would be peaceful. CONCLUSION There are international standards for holding free and fair elections. These include: adherence to the legal framework for an election; right of assembly and movement; democratic electoral campaigns; equal access to the media; equal participation of men and women in the elections; rights of citizens to freely choose who governs them.

 

The overall findings by CEON-U indicate some serious shortcomings in adherence to these standards. CEON-U remains hopeful that all those voters who could not vote yesterday are able to participate today. We call upon all electoral stakeholders to act within the law and effectively execute their legal mandate, as well as to all Ugandans to remain calm and keep the peace. For more information about CEON-U contact Dr. Martin Mwondha on 0788929052 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit our website at http://www.ceonu.or.ug. CEON – Uganda – Towards 2016: Conducting a Unified, Comprehensive and effective election Observation Mission in Uganda. You can also visit the FHRI offices in Nsambya.

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