The largest domestic observation Network was launched yesterday ahead of Uganda’s 2016 general Elections.
Observation effort is an initiative of 18 national civil society organisations and 23 sub national organisations dealing among others in human rights advocacy, anti-corruption, media, women, youth and persons with disabilities.
The Citizens Election Observers Network-Uganda (CEON-U) will deploy at least 200 long term observers to cover the long term electoral process.
Dr Livingstone Sewanyana, the chairperson CEON-U, says this focuses on the earlier part of the elections including nominations and campaigns.
“The numbers will be significantly increased for the observation of the Presidential Election.”
Sewanyana, speaking at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala on Thursday, said the organisation plans to deploy at least 1000 observers overall, the biggest domestic observers team in the country’s history.
He said for the first time in the country’s electoral history, the observers will remain in the field for some time to observe the post-election period.
“The consortium will lay emphasis on nine thematic issues/ interests under which observation shall be conducted including: Voter Registration, Voter Education, Media Monitoring, Women’s participation and Gender, Participation of PWDs, Security and Human Rights Defenders, Campaign Financing, Election Administration, and Campaigns.”
Sewanyana referred to the network as a “timely wave of fresh air into Uganda’s electoral process.”
Dr. Martin Mwondha, the coordinator, CEON-U had this to said “domestic observation improves quality of electoral processes, we will seek to make those changes, however little, as long as they can improve citizens participation in elections, small improvements make a big difference,” adding that, “for long, nobody has domestically cared about the election postmortem for example.”
Kiggundu promises free and fair elections
Speaking as the chief guest at the event, Electoral Commission chairman, Eng Badru Kiggundi, said the country deserves free and fair elections.
“We will deliver but together,” he noted referring to candidates who he said should also do their part as expected of them.
He for example pointed out the scenario of former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi who is currently holding consultative meetings across the country.
Kiggundu said consultations must be a two-way thing where the aspirant speaks and the gathering responds with views.
“However, Mbabazi is the only speaking.”
The EC days back issued a warning preventing Mbabazi from holding open rallies saying he was not yet a presidential candidate.
Greed disguised as democracy
A leading activist, Ms Sarah Bireete, wonders how the country’s police can spend on buying teargas while people, for example in Moroto, die of hunger.
“Uganda is not necessarily a poor country but we have been continuously led by poor leaders when it comes to setting priorities and caring about the welfare of Ugandans.”
“Because of our elaborate patronage system with a sole aim of regime longevity, people issues are not a priority and what we concentrate on are issues like tear gassing political opponents, stopping presidential contenders from meeting the people, abusing state institutions into harassing political opponents, purchasing lots of tear gas for the same.”
She pointed out how legislators are paid Shs 10m each for a two days special sitting, saying this should open the eyes of Ugandans to realise that “they are being led by wrong people”.
“Ugandans have only experienced what qualifies to be democracy after our independence but with difficult challenges of managing a post-colonial state with visible presence of the colonialists just calling the shots behind the curtains.”
Bireete, a director at centre for constitutional governance, says this led to the 1966 constitutional crisis and the eventual overthrow of Obote 1 government using Idi Amin.
She wonders how President Yoweri Museveni who claims to have restored democracy can dispatch police to block all venues booked by Mbabazi in Jinja after chaos in Soroti that marred Amama’s rally.
“Is it possible for Ugandans to get answers on what type of democracy was restored by NRM? Does it for in the known definition of democracy?”
Possible scenarios in 2016 elections
Activist Jannette Mugisha has drawn about four possible scenarios that will happen in 2016 general elections opening a social media debate.
Possible scenario one-that Museveni will win amidst a mini-civil war situation occasioned by high levels of violence using state machinery to intimidate, kill and maim people and engage in massive vote rigging.
Possible Scenario two-that the need for change will overwhelm the system and the citizens will force a re-run through a three-horse race of Mbabazi, Kizza Besigye and Museveni.
This would mean none gets 51% and then violence will set in followed by an overthrow of the constitution for fear of participation in a re-run election.
Possible scenario three-that Museveni through the police and EC will intensify violence now and intimate voters way ahead of time so that by November and December, the people who want change will have given up at the cost of peace and stability and he will be voted overwhelmingly as “an angel of peace” or out of fear of the “master of chaos” and he will get an outright “victory”.
In this scenario, there will no violence after Christmas as people will have given up.
Possible Scenario four-that Mbabazi and Besigye will run on a joint ticket and get out right victory and the forces of democracy will ensure peaceful hand over of power.