15 February 2016

Ugandan Polls Should Reflect Citizens' Wish

editorial

Much is expected from Uganda as the country goes to the elections on Thursday.

Elections in Africa are often characterised by violence, allegations of malpractices, including rigging, voter bribery and inefficiency by the electoral agencies, all of which have conspired to undermine the credibility of results, especially for the presidential contests.

As Ugandans go to the polls this week, its neighbours will be watching in the hope that the country will teach the rest of the region a lesson or two on how to manage elections peacefully and credibly.

Of course, the people of Uganda themselves must decide whether they will vote for continuity or change but it is important that their choice be respected and that when the results are announced, their voice will truly have been heard.

Coming just months after the Tanzanian elections, all eyes in the East African Community -- indeed, the entire continent -- will be on Uganda and its election officials. It is not enough for African countries to be seen to be holding elections. It is important that the results of those elections be seen to reflect the will of their people.

Be that as it may, it is equally important for African leaders to formulate succession plans to avoid remaining in office for years on end.

Democracy by its very nature envisages continuous renewal of political and State institutions. Often, this sense of rejuvenation of public institutions lacks in African countries despite regular elections, largely because incumbents are generally favourites to win elections irrespective of the years they have been in power.

Whatever the outcome of this week's election in Uganda, the rest of Africa is looking for the renewal of the promise to make life better for citizens, to secure peace, to improve the economy and to spread the benefits of critical social services, especially to the poor and the marginalised.

Uganda

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