We’ll hold free & fair polls-Museveni tells EU


President Yoweri Museveni has met and hosted European Union Heads of Mission in Uganda for an ‘Article 8’ Political Dialogue between Uganda and European Union.

The meeting took place at the President’s country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura District on Friday April 24, 2015.

Article 8 refers to the political dimension of the Cotonou Agreement, the legal framework agreement covering political, development and trade relations between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, of which Uganda is a signatory.

The dialogue, organized regularly, offers a platform for consultations over a broad range of issues, as well as an opportunity to take stock of progress made concerning ‘essential elements’ of the Cotonou Agreement: respect for human rights, rule of law, democratic principles and good governance.

The EU Head of Delegation to Uganda, H.E Ambassador Kristian Schmidt led the EU team comprised of 5 EU Member States Ambassadors and other representatives in Uganda.

Among the EU Member States Ambassadors were H.E. Alison Blackburne (United Kingdom); H.E. Peter-Christof Blomeyer (Germany); H.E. Dónal Cronin (Ireland); H.E. Alain Hanssen (Belgium) and H.E Sophie Makame (France). Other Member States representatives were Mr. Martin Bo Brander (Denmark) and Mr. Christian Fogelström (Sweden).

The Uganda team included the Minister of State for Internal Affairs Hon. James Baba, The Deputy Attorney General Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana, The Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity Hon. Simon Lokodo, The Minister of State for Works Hon. Asuman Kiyingi, the Minister of State for Finance (Investments) Hon. Gabriel Gadison Ajedra Aridru and the Solicitor General, Francis Atoke.

The meeting focused on Economic Growth, Trade and Investment, Democracy and Human Rights as well as Regional Security.

On Economic Growth, Trade and Investment, President Museveni and the EU appreciated the increasing EU-Ugandan trade and investment cooperation and reassured their commitments to continue.

Both sides agreed that it is important to increase the attractiveness of Uganda for investment and to ensure a level playing field for the companies.

Both sides also agreed on the importance of addressing economic empowerment of women.

Both sides reached a mutual understanding that the ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards corruption needs to be enforced and that institutions combating corruption would be strengthened.

The President showed a great interest in and appreciation of the newly-created European Business Forum in Uganda.

The EU committed to increase and promote trade and investment in Uganda. The President also committed to ensuring that health and safety standards of Ugandan agricultural products exported would be guaranteed.

On Democracy and Human Rights, the EU and President Museveni both stated their commitments to upholding democratic values and human rights.

The importance of the electoral reform bill for the 2016 general elections, in light of the recommendations identified in the EU Electoral Observation Mission (EU EOM) 2011 Final report, was discussed.

President Museveni reassured that the electoral reform bill will be introduced in the Parliament after the Parliament recess.

President Museveni also affirmed to the EU of the Government of Uganda’s commitment to conduct free and fair elections in 2016.

He invited the EU to dispatch an electoral observation mission to the 2016 general elections.

At the meeting, the EU applauded the President’s support of the UN ‘He For She’ campaign to promote women empowerment and encouraged President Museveni to continue to prioritise fighting gender based violence on women in the society.

President Museveni and the EU also discussed the Non-Governmental Organizations Bill and shared constructive views on issues of mutual concern which should be further addressed in the Bill.

The President committed to promoting a substantial consultation process during Parliament’s discussions of the Bill.

He also committed to engaging with the Uganda Human Rights Commission in order to follow up on its latest annual report on human rights violations within the police.

The EU applauded Uganda for enacting and adopting the Anti-Torture Act and encouraged the government to sign the optional protocol to the UN Convention against Torture.

On Regional security, the EU welcomed the role Uganda is playing in the region and encouraged Uganda to continue its role, both through diplomacy and regional peace-keeping efforts.

President Museveni and the European Union shared concerns on radicalisation and regional security in the Horn of Africa and discussed further venues for enhanced cooperation on these issues.

Both sides expressed their concern about the situation in Burundi and South Sudan.

The European Union encouraged Uganda, in cooperation with other East African Community (EAC) members, to step up its diplomatic engagement.

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