The United States will not send a mission to Uganda to observe the country’s general elections which will hold on Thursday, the topmost American diplomat in Kampala confirmed on Wednesday.Sadly, I announce decision not to observe #Uganda’s elections due to @UgandaEC’s decision to deny more than 75% of our accreditation requests. A robust contingent of observers, including local entities, promotes transparency & accountability” said Ambassador Natalie E. Brown in a tweet.
It comes hours before millions of Ugandans head to the polls to elect a new president and MPs to represent them for the next five years.
The Ugandan government has not commented on the US’s decision not to send observers.
Ambassador Brown said that the Ugandan electoral commission has not explained why it decided to give accreditation to just a handful of its poll observers out of the 88 officials who were supposed to be part of the mission.
She said those cleared for the election observation mission were randomly selected by the commission.
Veteran leader Yoweri Museveni, 76 who came to power in 1986, is bidding for a fifth term, but face a challenge from the 38-year old pop star turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi known by his stage name Bobi Wine.
Museveni has been widely credited for presiding over a relatively stable Uganda following the turbulent years under late Milton Obote and Idi Amin but Wine and his supporters say he no longer embodies the future.
Weeks of clashes between Wine’s supporters and the police have led to the death of at least 50 people.
Rallies have been held by Wine’s opposition National Unity Platform despite a ban on all such political activities which the government say was to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Wine’s own security guards were whisked away during a raid at his Kamwokya residence in a suburb of Kampala by soldiers as he granted an interview to journalists.
There has been a partial internet shutdown in Uganda ahead of the historic vote, a move which President Museveni claimed was justified to stop foreign interference.
Uganda has a population of over 46 million.