Happy New Year!
Greetings from the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU).
Herewith attached, please receive CCEDU’s Open Letter to the President of the Republic of Uganda on election matters. This 2019 letter highlights three (3) key challenges that have afflicted Uganda’s elections in the recent past including: 1) Monetization of elections and corruption in electoral processes; 2) Integrity of the national voters register; and 3) Violence during elections. We have also proposed concrete remedies that we believe require urgent collective action to restore the integrity of elections in Uganda.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. (Image Source: Softpower News)
Recent elections held in the districts of; Jinja, Arua and Bugiri registered incidents of election violence, with Arua recording the worst cases pre-election, D-day and post-election. The Arua municipality MP seat fell vacant after the gruesome murder of Hon. Ibrahim Abiriga in June 2018.
The final day of campaigning in Arua was epic. All political bigwigs on either side of political divide; NRM Party Chairman and President of Uganda, Yoweri K Museveni, opposition leading light Kiiza Besigye, and one threatening to take the shine -Kyadondo East MP Hon Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu aka Bobi Wine among others on the last stretch making a case for their preferred candidate.
The ensuing energy from rival camps, brewed provocations, and later a brawl that recorded some of the worst cases of torture and human rights abuses ever witnessed in an election exercise in the country.
The stretch marks of a highly flammable process had quite revealed early. The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda CCEDU, an election observer body was suspended by Electoral Commission on 4th July 2018 – weeks before the Arua municipality by-election. ‘What was government hiding?” some would ask.
By the time the storm had withered , thirty-three people including Members of Parliament had been arrested by security forces. Later, these were charged with treason for allegedly attempting to harm the president of Uganda following allegations of the President’s convoy being pelted with stones by supporters of the opposition.
The suspects appeared in court in a helpless health state. Notable MPs, and other members of public were seen with grievous bodily injuries allegedly resulting out of torture while in custody of security agencies.
30-year-old Micheal Abiriga is one of the victims that escaped death narrowly after he was shot in the chest.
Andrew Natumanya, an official photographer of Kyadondo East MP Hon Robert Kyagulanyi shares his ordeal in the Arua fracas.
As he recounts, he points out a statement made by the honorable Kyagulanyi at the final rally in Arua that could have sparked off the events that followed.
In various parts of the country and abroad, streets had taken on popular anti regime response over the treatment of legislators and citizens in Arua.
The Force responded with force.
The fourth estate not spared
Yet to be confirmed reports indicate, five people lost their lives in the election-related violence around the Arua Municipality by-election held on 15th August 2018. Yasin Kawuma, the driver of Hon Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine, was the first victim, shot dead in his boss’s pickup truck two days to the election in Arua Municipality.
Tracing the past, perhaps predicts a clear view of what was to happen. On the eve of the burial of the slain Arua MP Ibrahim Abiriga, the deceased MP was highlight of a burial that defied traditional custom.
During a press conference at Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, Civil society organizations condemned the torture of the Arua by Election victims.
The head of state wasn’t all too impressed. In his official social media handles, he attacked the police blaming the scuffle on weak management.
The president also warned human rights organizations and referred to them as agents of imperialists’ interests.
Civil Society Organs however disagree.
President Museveni recently in a response to the speaker of parliament, Kadaga’s letter over torture meted to MPs and civilians by the army recently; praised the army and also revealed that he ordered the UPDF in what he termed as to “protect people and property” of Arua.
Questions on how country can conduct herself better in election exercises were posed.
Early this year, CCEDU Coordinator Crispin Kaheru wrote to the president calling for electoral reforms against the backdrop of the same recommendations from Supreme court.
CCEDU Coordinator Mr. Crispy Kaheru has decried the recent increase in post election violence in Uganda.
Analysts argue that beyond the legislative tier of reforms, public civic education is equally crucial as a measure to sustain values like democracy, justice and peace in electoral practices.
In order to effectively and efficiently fulfil its constitutional mandate, the Electoral Commission has put in place a Strategic Plan covering the Financial Years 2015/16 - 2021/22 to guide it in the performance of its functions.
This approach has previously enabled the Commission to conduct general elections in a smooth manner for it provides for phased funding of key election activities thereby easing funding pressure on government given the limited resource envelope.
During the period under review, the Electoral Commission’s strategies will be anchored on six Key Result Areas, namely:
an institutionally strengthened Election Management Body (EMB);
free, fair and transparent elections;
credible, accurate and accessible National Voters’ Register;
effective and comprehensive Voter Education;
an efficient service-oriented/ stakeholders focused Election Management Body (EMB); and
a strengthened Monitoring and Evaluation Framework.
This Strategic Plan was developed after consultation and involvement of various stakeholders in a transparent manner and the Commission pledges to continue involving them in its implementation. Secondly, the Commission reviewed its previous Strategic Plan and carried out a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis; stakeholder analysis, value scan, operational environment, that is Political, Economical, Social, Technological, Environmental and Legal (PESTEL) and developed a balanced scorecard..
CCEDU Coordinator Mr Crispy Kaheru was among the CSO heads who attended the launch.
Following the Council meeting of the East and Horn of Africa Election Observers Network (E-HORN) that happened on 28th November 2018, our Coordinator Mr. Crispy Kaheru was elected to Chair the Board of the Network. E-HORN (http://www.ehorn.org) is a regional, independent, non-partisan, inclusive network of East and Horn of Africa election observation and monitoring citizen organizations and institutions. It is established to link election observation networks and individual monitoring organizations in the East and Horn of Africa, with its Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.
Dr Audax Kweyambe of TEMCO -Left hands over the chair of E-HORN to Mr Crispy Kaheru of CCEDU-Right, 28th November 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya.
Following the Electoral Commision's decision to suspend CCEDU from conducting election-related activities on July 4th 2018, a meeting was held today 24 December 2018 between CCEDU and the Electoral Commission (EC), both parties resolved to immediately renew their partnership and adopt an agreed upon communication strategy.
Dr Livingstone Sewanyana shares a light moment with the EC Chairperson Justice Byabakama Simon Mugyenyi
Statement released by the Electoral Commission following the meeting