Kenya-based Civil Society Reference Group (CSRG) has faulted President Yoweri Museveni for saying Uganda’s 2021 presidential election was the ‘only one free of cheating since 1962’.
The 76-year-old Museveni, who came to power after an armed uprising in 1986, was declared winner of the 14 January election by the country’s Electoral Commission.
According to the electoral umpire, the candidate of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) got 58.64 percent of the votes, while opposition candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, finished second with 34.83 percent.
But Wine, who ran on the platform of National Unity Platform (NUP), has rejected the result of the election characterised by violence and internet shutdown.
‘Elections are not just about what happens on polling day but also the extent to which all candidates and their political parties are able to freely associate, assemble and articulate their ideas to the electorate’, CSRG said in a statement.
‘It is improper and unacceptable that a political competitor in the same elections should abrogate himself and unilaterally exercise the power to switch off social media without the concurrence of other candidates, and still brag about his win’.
Before the 14 January election, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights asked the government of Uganda to protect citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
The commission made the call against the backdrop of reports of rights violations in the East African country ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Spokesperson for the commission, Ravina Shamdasani, said in a statement that ‘deteriorating’ violation of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and participation, arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture had been documented.
‘Between 18 and 20 November, at least 54 people were killed during riots and protests in at least 7 districts across the country over the arrest and detention of two opposition presidential candidates, Robert Kyagulanyi, who is also known as Bobi Wine, and Patrick Oboi Amuriat, and members of the political opposition’, the statement read.
Also, the commission cited an example of over 100 NUP supporters who were arrested in Kalangala when security forces blocked a campaign event by Kyagulanyi for violating Covid-19 measures saying police have not enforced Covid-19 restrictions in such a strict manner for electoral campaign activities by the ruling party.
‘Such developments increase concern that the Covid-19 measures are being used as a ground to restrict public freedoms and political participation during the electoral process’, the commission noted.
The government of Uganda, in November 2020, deported two heads of the United States and European Union-funded NGOs in the country over allegations they support regime change.
Two other heads of foreign NGOs carrying out civic education and strengthening political parties regarding the elections were barred from returning to Uganda.
Photo source: GovernmentZA