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Absence of Observers Will Not Stop Elections – EC Byabakama

The Electoral Commission has responded to the United States’ decision to pull out of Uganda’s election observation a day to polls.

On Wednesday morning, the US Ambassador to Uganda Natalie E. Brown announced her country’s decision to cancel election observation in Uganda.

“It is with profound disappointment that I announce US Mission in Uganda’s decision to cancel our diplomatic observation of Uganda’s January 14 election due to the decision by the Electoral Commission of Uganda to deny more than 75 percent of the US election observer accreditations approved, it is not possible for the United States to meaningfully observe the conduct of Uganda’s election at polling sites across the country,” said Ambassador Brown in a statement.

While addressing reporters on Electoral Commission’s final preparations for the polling tomorrow, the EC chairman Justice Simon Byabakama, quoting the Electoral Commission Act said that mandatory observers for an election are the Political parties and organizations, and representatives of independent candidates.

“Under Section 16 of Electoral Commission Act, the Electoral Commission accredits any individual to act as an election observer. But sub section 1(a) ‘says that whereas the Commission may have discretional powers to elect any individual to act as an election observer, when it comes to political parties, Organizations and representatives of independent candidates, the Electoral Commission shall accredit them as election observers,'” he said.

Byabakama clarified that under the law, it is only political parties, organizations and representatives of independent candidates that must observe the conduct of elections.

He added that whether other accredited observers turn up or not, the election must take place.

“The issue is that elections must take place as planned and organized, and they are going to take place,” said Byabakama.

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Speaking to ChimpReports immediately after Ambassador Brown issued the US election observation cancellation statement, the Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said that the United States applied to have all it’s 72 members accredited but only 15 were accredited because of COVID-19 crisis.

Despite the above, Opondo said that United States was given the biggest number of accredited observers.

He however, added that that although foreign observers give a “sense of credibility and legitimacy,” the priority is Ugandans.

Among the international observers that were accredited to observe elections include; United States, United Kingdom, East African Community (EAC), IGAD, East African Standby Force (EASF) and Women Situation Room among others.

Ugandans will go to the polls Thursday 14th January 2021 to elect the next president.

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