The Electoral Commission has started accrediting local and international election observers for the 2021 general elections.
According to Hajat Aisha Lubega, the chairperson of accreditation committee who doubles as Electoral Commission Deputy Chairperson, the EC accreditation centre based at the Kampala Serena Hotel was officially opened on December 22, 2020 and will receive and process the approved applications up to Monday January 11, 2021.
Section 16 (1)(a) of the Electoral Commission’s Act gives the Commission powers to accredit representatives of political parties, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), media and other duly registered institutions to observe electoral activities.
According to EC spokesperson Paul Bukenya, “at least 49 national and international organisations, diplomatic missions and regional Institutions have expressed interest in observing the elections, with the first category (Presidential and Parliamentary) scheduled for 14th January 2021.”
Mrs Lubega clarified that the accreditation centre will process applications for observation for national election results tally centre as well as tally centres for Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso districts.
Observers for other district tally centres across the country, she said, will be accredited by the respective District Returning Officers.
She emphasized that the accredited observers will have to comply with the election observer guidelines and code of conduct issued by the Electoral Commission, and with Government of Uganda and Ministry of Health measures against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Uganda will go to the polls on January 14, 2021 to elect the next president and Members of Parliament.
Various opposition presidential candidates contesting to unseat the incumbent Yoweri Museveni have various times alleged that the playing field is not leveled for all contenders.
Since the commencement of campaigns, various opposition presidential candidates such as Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu of National Unity Platform (NUP) and Patrick Amuriat Oboi of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and their supporters have engaged in running battles with security agencies over failure to observe COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) put in place by the Ministry of Health to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The candidates have always held mass campaign rallies, which the security agencies said was a violation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) against COVID-19
Basing on the campaigns and the political environment in the aftermath of the election, observers will make reports about how the election was conducted (whether it was free and fair) and lay down recommendations.