Hon. Sam K. Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs on Friday met and briefed the diplomatic corps on the concluded Uganda electoral process across the country, which started on 18 February with Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
These were subsequently followed by Distinct, Municipal and Local Council elections, as well as parliamentary representatives for special interest groups, such as the UPDF, Youth, Workers, and Persons with Disabilities.
Arising from the elections, H.E President Yoweri Museveni was declared winner of the Presidential elections, with 60.62% of the vote, followed by FDC’s Dr. Kizza Besigye with 35.61%.
The Electoral Commission has published detailed results, including those for Parliamentary, District and Local Council elections.
Kutesa welcomed the Supreme Court Judgement on Thursday which upheld the election of H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as President of Uganda.
He said, however, that the late delivery of polling materials in Kampala and Wakiso Districts was regrettable, and the Electoral Commission took full responsibility for it.
“I wish to point out that, except for scattered instances of violence, elections were by and large conducted peacefully across the country.”
Kutesa thanked the different Observer Groups that monitored the elections, such as the EU, AU, COMESA, EICA and EAC.
“As a young democracy, there are always improvements to be made, and we welcome the observations and recommendations that have been made.”
“Many of them, while pointing out some challenges, commended the Electoral Commission’s innovations, including the use of the biometric verification system and voter location slips, as important steps to enhance transparency.”
He said during the 10th Parliament, Government will take on board constructive recommendations by all the Observer Groups and the Supreme Court, in its consideration of electoral reforms.
Regarding the media, Kutesa said Uganda’s media environment is extremely free, pluralistic and mainly driven by the private sector.
“There are over 24 daily and weekly newspapers, 26 free to air and 5 pay TV stations, as well as 220 licensed and operational radio stations countrywide. The Government does not exercise editorial or content supervision nor censorship and more so, at no time during the recently concluded elections.”
He said the Police has had close cooperation and constructively engaged the Media, before, during and after the elections.
“It is however, always a challenge when the thrill of a story is more important to a journalist than basic security guidelines or regulations, and in this case certain restrictions have been made.”
On 18 – 20 February, there was restriction on social media based on reliable information to use it to destabilize the electoral process, and potentially the security of the country.
“By law, only the Electoral Commission conducts and declares election results. Using social media to declare unofficial results is contrary to the law. This would have been a recipe for confusion in a young democracy.”
He said as a country that subscribes to democratic principles and values, including through the African Peer Review Mechanism, Uganda remains firmly focused on protecting and promoting people’s rights and freedoms, as well as rule of law.