By Taryn Weninger (University of Simon Fraser University and intern in Research Department at FHRI) & Dr. Fred Sekindi (Director Research, Advocacy and Lobbying at FHRI)

Issued: August 30, 2016

Introduction

The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) was launched on 19th August 2009. CCEDU is a broad coalition that brings together over 850 like-minded civil society organizations and over 25,000 individuals to advocate for electoral democracy in Uganda. The CCEDU secretariat is hosted by the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI). CCEDU’s vision is to realize a Uganda where the principles and practices of electoral democracy are upheld. Its mission is to advance integrity and citizen participation in Uganda’s electoral process. CCEDU carries out its work in all districts and regions of Uganda. Since its establishment, CCEDU has been a leading player in advocacy for electoral reforms, observation of general and by-elections and civic/voter education campaigns.

CCEDU has a special mandate to observe Elections in conformity with the relevant international instruments governing election observation and the Constitution and National Laws of the Republic of Uganda.[1]

This statement presents the overall observations of the conduct of Election Day process of the CCEDU Election Observation Mission in the five districts.

Summary

CCEDU finds that the Election Day processes were relatively peaceful and better organized from an administration perspective. Polling officials knew polling day procedures and generally followed the legal provisions on opening of the polling station, set up, voting, closing and counting. However, there were some challenges during the polling process notably some voters who were not permitted to vote. Additionally, although the election procedures allow for assisted voting, CCEDU noted cases of voters who were assisted to vote in many of the polling stations observed.

Set Up and opening

Although many polling stations opened after 7am, the polling officials generally followed the laid out procedures for opening and set up. Additionally, the few incidents of missing materials mainly indelible ink were also resolved.

Voting

During the voting process, polling officials at most polling stations followed procedures and the Biometric Voter Verification System (BVVS) relatively functioned well.

In 84 of 100 polling stations observed, voters were checked for ink before receiving a ballot.

· All polling stations observed had the BVVS. In 84 of 100 polling stations observed the BVVS functioned properly. Among the 16 that malfunctioned, 10 were fixed and 3 were replaced.

· Polling officials instructed voters on voting procedures in 89 of the 100 polling stations observed

· In 86 of the 100 polling stations observed, voters were able to vote in secret.

· In 66 of the 100 polling stations observed, there were no unauthorized personnel present inside the polling station. However, police and crime preventers were present in 19 of polling stations.

· High numbers of voters were assisted to vote. In 78 of the 100 polling stations observed some (1 – 14) voters were assisted to vote. In 6 of the polling stations observed more than 15 voters were assisted to vote. Unidentified people assisted voters in 67 of the 100 polling stations observed, while election officials and party agents assisted voters in 16 and 14 of the polling stations respectively contrary to the law.

Chart 1 representing number of voters assisted to vote based on data from 100 polling stations observed by CCEDU

District

Polling Stations with CCEDU Observers

Polling stations with between 1-14 voters assisted to Vote

Kagadi

33

28

Kakumiro

22

16

Kibaale

12

9

Omoro

14

11

Rubanda

19

14

NRM party agents were present in all the 5 districts (in 99 of the 100 polling stations observed), Independent candidates agents present in Kagadi, Kakumiro, Omoro and Rubanda (in 85 of the 100 polling stations observed) and FDC party agents present in Kagadi, Kibaale, Omoro and Rubanda (in 78 polling stations observed.) However UPC, DP and PP party agents presence is limited to Omoro district.

· In 84 of the 100 polling stations observed, all voters in queue by 4pm were able to vote.

Counting and Declaration of Results

· In 99 of the 100 polling stations, polling officials opened the ballot box and sorted ballots in full view of the candidates’ agents.

· 62 of polling stations did not have unauthorized personnel present during counting. However, 23 of polling stations observed had police present and 22 of polling stations had crime preventers present.

· Party agents are useful in an election because they can deter fraud especially if they are vigilant and loyal to their candidate/party. During counting NRM party agents were present in all the 5 districts (in 98 of the 100 polling stations observed), Independent candidates agents present in Kagadi, Kakumiro, Omoro and Rubanda (in 82 of the 100 polling stations observed) and FDC party agents present in Kagadi, Kibaale, Omoro and Rubanda (in 74 polling stations observed.) However UPC and DP presence is limited to Omoro district. PPP party agents were not present during counting in any district.

· Where party agents of NRM were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 94 of 100 polling stations. They refused to sign in 5 of the 100 polling stations observed.

· Where agents of FDC were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 72 of 100 polling stations. Where FDC agents were present, they refused to sign in 4 of the 100 polling stations observed.

· Where party agents of UPC were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 15 of 100 polling stations. They refused to sign in 0 of the 100 polling stations observed.

· Where party agents of DP were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 15 of 100 polling stations. They refused to sign in 2 of the 100 polling stations observed.

· Where party agents of PPP were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 6 of 100 polling stations. They refused to sign in 0 of the 100 polling stations observed.

· Where party agents of independent candidates were present, their agents signed the Declaration of Results form in 79 of 100 polling stations. They refused to sign in 8 of the 100 polling stations observed.

· Election results were posted publicly at 86 of the 100 polling stations observed and in all the polling station observed the presiding officer sealed a copy of the DR form in the tamper evident envelope for transmission to the Returning officer.


Critical Incident Reports

CCEDU received 22 critical incidents and verified 17. The highest number of incidents reported from Rubanda (7) and Kakumiro (6) Kagadi (2) and Omoro (1) had the least number of incidents reported.

· Vote buying/voter bribery was the most reported incidents in Rubanda, Omoro and Kakumiro

· Incidents of violence including disruption of voting were the second most reported in Kakumiro, Omoro and Kagadi

· Incidents of unauthorized persons assisting others to vote were the third most reported critical incidents reported in Kakumiro.

· In Rubanda there was also a case of impersonation of voters reported.

· In Omoro voting ended at 5:00pm but voting materials from the polling stations arrived at the tally centre at 10:40pm.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that there were a few incidents of violence reported, CCEDU applauds voters in Kagadi, Kakumiro, Kibaale, Omoro and Rubanda for maintaining peace and calm during the elections. However, CCEDU is concerned that voters are increasingly demanding for bribes from candidates which is a point of concern in our electoral processes. CCEDU urges voters to desist from demanding for bribes and urges candidates to desist from buying voters.

CCEDU remains committed to improving the integrity of electoral processes in Uganda.

For God and my country.

CCEDU Contacts:

Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda

Website: www.ccedu.org.ug

Phone: 0794444410

Facebook:facebook.com/CCEDU Uganda

Twitter: cceduganda



[1] The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda is the primary law in Uganda; it has provisions in governing elections. The constitutional provisions on elections are buttressed by statute law contained in: The Presidential Elections Act No.16 of 2005 as amended, The Parliamentary Elections Act No.17 of 2005 as amended, The Local Governments Act 1997 as amended, The Electoral Commission Act Cap. 243. The Political parties and Organizations Act

For Immediate Release – 11th January 2018

Statement on the Ruhaama County MP By-election Introduction

Ruhaama County went to the polls today – January 11, 2018, to elect a Member of Parliament. The election followed the death of the area MP – William Beijukye Zinkuratire from NRM. To track the day’s activities, CCEDU deployed a team of mobile observers who sampled eight (8) out of the eleven (11) Sub Counties that comprise Ruhaama County. CCEDU’s sample included: Itojo, Ruhaama, Ntungamo TC, Rukoni West, Rwikiniro, Kitwe, Kafunjo and Nyakyeera sub counties. Preliminary findings of the observation team were:

Opening of the Poll:

While the Electoral Commission dispatched polling materials from their office as early as 4:30am, CCEDU observed delays in arrival of the material at the polling stations and subsequent delay in the commencement of polling. Some polling stations received polling material as late as 8.07am. Kashenyi CoU Primary School, Nyakibobo and Bukora, polling stations received polling material at 7.27am, 7.37am and 8.07am respectively. CCEDU observed delivery of material at some polling stations without the presence of a polling constable to secure them.

CCEDU Assembles Observers for Ruhaama By-election

Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) together with the South Western Institute for Policy and Advocacy (SOWIPA) are deploying 30 community election observers to the Ruhaama County by-election to be held on 11th January 2018. Observers will be deployed in the 11 Sub Counties of Ruhaama, including: Ntungamo, Itojo, Nyakyera, Ruhaama, Ruhaama East, Rukoni East, Rukoni West, Kafunjo TC, Rweikiniro, Kitwe TC and Rubobo.

Observers will report on general election administration including opening, polling and closing processes of polling stations; tallying and announcement of results; the conduct of security agencies; the role of media; participation of special interest groups; as well as the immediate aftermath of the by-election. The observation is intended to verify whether the electoral processes adhere to international standards and national legal provisions of conducting credible, free and fair elections. Observers will also pay special attention to any arising good practices that could be replicated in subsequent elections.

Every year comes with its challenges and opportunities. When a year comes to an end, we tend to remember the last moments more. Many highs, many lows; but for Uganda the dying moments of 2017 could easily qualify as dampening. I will tell you why I think so, in a moment; but first, let’s toast to the opportunities well seized as well as the challenges encountered. Challenges are our best friends; they teach us lessons to be better people. As we toast to a New Year, let’s celebrate life, let’s commiserate with those who lost their dear ones.

At a more professional level, it is just right and fitting that we empathize with our media friends whose resolve to keep Ugandans informed could have either landed them in jail or left them physically and emotionally bruised. Let’s salute the men and women in leadership positions who stood with Uganda amidst the murky political torrents. As we party away a year of scars, wounds, healing and successes, let’s also remember to toast to the men and women in uniform, especially those who did their work dedicatedly with professionalism amidst undue pressures and persuasions.

Three cheers for those who opened their hands to warmly receive and help the refugees who fled wars, calamities and other situations from their original home countries. Let’s pay tribute to all those Ugandans who worked tirelessly to preserve and improve their environment. Let’s acknowledge those men and women who stood against any form of injustices – social, economic or otherwise. Of course, we need to pay special homage to those who fought viciously against the scourge of corruption that has eaten deeply into our society. Let’s not forget to express our invaluable gratitude to those who made a step towards reawakening the value system upon which Ugandan was originally founded (Ubuntu).

Let’s pass on our special gratitude to all those who defied odds to create and nurture opportunities for Uganda and Ugandans. Let’s salute all those who put Uganda on the map for good reasons irrespective of field. Three cheers to the men and women who brought life to earth, those who nurtured lives and those who saved lives. Let’s toast to those who produced unadulterated food that fueled our souls and bodies. Back to my pet subject, for most of the civic groups working on governance issues, 2017 has been yet another tough year.

The year ending will be remembered as that of a ‘broken promise’. Advocacy civil society groups continued to bear the brunt of a skeptical regime. Besides implementing their programmes in a highly suspicious atmosphere, civic outfits had to contend with vilification, office break-ins, technological intrusions, unclear security incidents, alongside navigating the unchartered waters of a new regulatory framework for NGOs. Some voices critical of government policies and actions were scornfully viewed with not-so-much attention paid to the issues they were raising.

Independent expository works by researchers, academics, philanthropists and media that were deemed thorny towards government occasionally attracted the unkind eye of the state. Book censorship increasingly became a troubling trend. An assessment of both 2016 (which was an election year) and 2017 clearly reveals that a lot of energies were expended on bigoted politicking rather than championing socio-economic development. The last quarter of 2017 for instance has seen a lot of attention paid to amending the Constitution to remove the age limits for presidential candidates. Unfortunately, by giving this amendment primacy over other ‘matters of national importance’, government only succeeded in one thing; keeping the country on a political agenda, continuing from 2016, which was an election year. By so doing, government’s moral authority to claim that Ugandans spend a lot of time politicking rather than doing productive work may have been successfully punctured. Ugandans are not the kind of people interested in spending too much time politicking; Ugandans want a corrupt-free society, they want good quality education, they need accessible quality health care; Ugandans want jobs for their children, they want political stability; Ugandans want to feel part and parcel of Uganda; Ugandans want safe-guards that will guarantee peaceful leadership transition at all levels; and most importantly, Ugandans want a Uganda that works for each of them.

The final bend to 2018 harbored clear testaments that the bridge between citizens and the state has either weakened or is now inexistent. As citizens thought they were getting over a litany of broken promises and social contracts, the linchpin between the wanainchi and the state did it again; they broke the hearts of many Ugandans when they removed age limitations for presidential candidates contrary to the wishes of majority of citizens. Like the saying goes, “since hunters have learned to shoot without missing, birds will have no choice but learn to fly without perching”; now, citizens have to inevitably learn to represent their views and aspirations without necessarily going through the ‘middle-men/women’ who have recently handed the citizens a raw deal.

The rough 2017 may have only made citizens and civic actors even stronger. Citizens have to inevitably confront 2018 with hope and resilience. While 2017 may have explicitly demonstrated that citizens are at the periphery, 2018 offers a new opportunity for wanainchi to expand frontiers and ensure they are at the center of their country’s destiny. It is high time that citizens engage new gears to sort the challenges that have affected the country in the previous years. A genuine dialogic approach is worthy exploring. We need to resolve to whine and criticize less, but challenge and act more. May the New Year inspire a unity of purpose to build the Uganda that works for each one of us. May our choices and resolutions for 2018 reflect our collective hopes rather than fears!

By Crispy Kaheru

http://crispykaheru.blogspot.ug/2017/12/2017-year-of-tribulations-and-new-re.html