Uganda Polls: the US airs concerns-“We are deeply troubled by security force violence during pre-election period & election irregularities”
Taking an exception to the controversial Uganda election, The US state department has said that The Ugandan people turned out to vote in multiparty national elections on January 14 despite an environment of intimidation and fear. “We are deeply troubled by the many credible reports of security force violence during the pre-election period and election irregularities during the polls.
We strongly urge independent, credible, impartial, and thorough investigations into these reports and that those responsible be held accountable. We condemn the continuing attacks on political candidates and urge the government to respect their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression. We are gravely concerned about harassment and continued threats to civil society. Finally, we note the continued nationwide shutdown of the Internet and call for its immediate restoration along with that of social media services.
We urge all parties to reject violence and to use constitutional and legal means to address complaints. We call upon the Government of Uganda to respect freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly and to hold accountable members of the security forces responsible for violence and abuses. We reiterate our intention to pursue action against those responsible for the undermining of democracy and human rights in Uganda.”
With presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled to take place on 14 January, SecretaryGeneral António Guterres raised concern over reports of violence and tensions in parts of the country and implored all political actors and their supporters to “refrain from the use of hate speech, intimidation and violence”.
“Any electoral disputes should be resolved through legal and peaceful means”, he said in a statement.
One of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, Yoweri Museveni, is seeking his sixth term in office, and competing against 10 other candidates to retain the presidency, including the popular singer Bobi Wine.
Last week, the UN human rights office, OHCHR, noted the “deteriorating human rights situation” ahead of Thursday’s vote, calling on the Government to take measures to prevent electoral violence.
OHCHR reported numerous rights violations including cases of arbitrary arrest, detention and torture. At least 55 people were killed in November during riots and protests over the arrest of Mr. Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi.
According to news reports, the European Union said on Tuesday that the electoral process had been seriously tarnished by the use of excessive force.
In a television address on Tuesday, President Museveni said that foreign partners did not understand that Uganda’s strength came from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), the army and the economy.
At the same time, hundreds of Ugandan civil society organizations have reported that only 10 of their 1,900 accreditation requests had been granted.
On Tuesday, according to news reports., Uganda’s communications regulator ordered telecoms companies to block access to messaging and social media apps, shortly after Facebook said that it had closed “fake” accounts, it said were linked to the Government.
A plea for ‘maximum restraint’
In his statement, Secretary-General Guterres called on the Ugandan authorities, particularly the security forces, to “show maximum restraint during this period and act according to established human rights principles”.
He concluded by reiterating the UN’s commitment “to support the country’s efforts to promote sustainable development and build a prosperous future”.