Uganda: 2021 General Elections Will Be Free, Fair - Government

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23 January 2020

With less than a year to the start of the 2021 general election campaigns, government has promised to comply with the key principles of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance- (ACDEG) by holding free and fair elections come 2021.

Outgoing Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana explained that it's not only the forthcoming general elections that government will ensure free and fair elections, but this has been upholding them even in the previous elections.

"It's not only this coming general elections of 2021 but Uganda held free and regular elections and also observed human rights. You can't compare this regime to the past regimes. We have always observed those principles," Mr Rukutana said by telephone at the weekend.

Article 3 of the African Charter demands of each state party to hold regular and free elections.

However, on the contrary, the shadow Attorney General, Mr Wilfred Niwagaba said with this current crop of leaders who are obsessed with staying in power, he predicts that the 2021 general elections will not be free and fair as required by the Charter.

"With this current regime of retention of power until the holder dies, we can only expect predetermined 2021 general elections, meaning they will not be free and fair as the Charter demands," Mr Niwagaba said by telephone.

"Whether he has won or not, the results will be in the incumbent's favour. Let me ask you a question, have you ever seen an advert calling for filing of jobs at the Electoral Commission? All the staff there are handpicked and placed there for a reason," he continued.

The Charter also provides for the promotion of gender equality in public and private institutions, transparency and fairness in management of public affairs, strengthening political pluralism and recognising the role, rights and responsibilities of legally constituted political parties including opposition political parties, which should be given a status under national law.

The coordinator of the African Governance Architecture for Uganda, Mr Michael Aboneka, has since called upon government to fully adopt the principles of the Charter now that we are headed for the 2021 polls.

"The Charter is very important especially as we come towards the general elections. You can't speak of elections when you don't have election standards. That is what the Charter emphasizes. It emphasis popular participation- that means everyone must participate and it's important that we take the principles from the Charter seriously as the world is watching us on how we are playing our elections when we signed on the Charter," Mr Aboneka said Thursday.

"Therefore, it's important that everyone takes the Charter is very important especially on principles of elections, governance and democracy and it's important that we live by these principles since we signed to it. As Action Aid and African governance architect, we shall continue to push for this ratification, we shall continue to push for honest conversations between stakeholders to make sure that Uganda is a better country for everyone," he added.

President Museveni signed the Charter on 16 December 2008, a year after it was adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union-AU.

Out of the 54 African states, 34 have ratified the Charter. They include; Sudan, Rwanda, Ghana and South Africa among others.

Likewise, Burundi, Somalia, Zimbabwe and Uganda have since signed the Charter but have not yet ratified it.

Six states; Egypt, Morocco, Tanzania, Botswana, Eritrea and Libya have neither signed nor ratified.

As the country gears up for next year's polls, the Electoral Commission (EC) has since issued out a road map with the latest activity having been the verification of the particulars of voters on the national voters' register at the village level; and identify all persons with disability (PWDs) in each village.

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