IGAD ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION TO THE PRESIDENTIAL AND PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN UGANDA PRELIMINARY REPORT

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1 IGAD ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION TO THE PRESIDENTIAL AND PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN UGANDA PRELIMINARY REPORT 19 th February 2016 I. Introduction 1. This is a Preliminary Report of the IGAD Election Observer Mission to the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Uganda and covers the Mission s findings from the date of arrival of the advance Observer team up until the closing and counting processes on 18 th February, Upon invitation extended by the Electoral Commission ofthe Republic of Uganda, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) deployed an Election Observer Mission (EOM) to the country to observe the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections held on 18 th February 2016.The advance IGAD Election Observer Mission arrived in Kampala on 11 th February IGAD is a regional body with membership of Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, the Sudan and Uganda. The organization s mandate includes promotion of Democracy, Good Governance, conduct of Free and Fair elections as some of the main objectives contributing to the enhancement of peace, stability and security in the region. 4. The IGAD Election Observation Mission to the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in the Republic of Uganda was a lean team composed of 10 participants from the Secretariat. The Election Observer Mission was led by Mr. Yufnalis Okubo, Ag. Director of IGAD Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN). The main Observer Mission team arrived in Kampala on 14 th February T F E Avenue Georges Clemenceau, Djibouti P.O. Box 2653, Republic of Djibouti

2 II. Objectives 1) Overall Objective: 5. The overall objective of the IGAD Observer Mission was to support the Republic of the Uganda, a founding member of IGAD, in its efforts to conduct free, fair and credible elections by providing positive and constructive feedback expected to help and improve similar future processes in Uganda and Member states and thus facilitate the development of a democratic election culture that helps to avert conflicts related to election disputes in the region. 2) Specific Objectives: - To assess whether there were favorable conditions for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections that would allow the people of Uganda to freely express their political will; - Assess and determine whether the elections were conducted in accordance with the Constitution, legal and institutional framework of Uganda; - Assess whether the elections met international benchmarks set out in the African Union Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa (African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance) and the Declaration of Principles for International Observers adopted by the United Nations in October ) Deployment 6. Members of the IGAD Election Observation Mission were deployed on 16 th of February 2016in teams of two observers each to observe elections in Wakiso, Kampala and Mukono Districts and covered a total of 45 polling stations. 7. They were to observe the polls opening, actual Polling, closing and counting stages of the election process. 4) Method of Work 8. The IGAD Observer Mission was a short term observer mission; therefore, it had to interact with key stakeholders at national level to get briefings and sufficient information on key aspects of the electoral process to help the Mission arrive at a fair and balanced conclusion regarding the election process. Hence, the observer mission undertook the following activities: - Paid courtesy call on officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, got accreditation and finalized some of the issues related to the election like fixing appointments with relevant stakeholders. Page 2 of 8

3 - Paid courtesy call on the Electoral Commission of Uganda. The EOM was received by the Chairman of the Electoral Commission Dr. Eng. Badru M. Kiggundu, who kindly took his time to brief members of the Mission on the overall preparations for the general elections and ascertained the Commission s readiness to conduct the elections. - Met with representatives some of the contesting parties in the Presidential Election (FDC and Go Forward/Independent) and was briefed on the status of their preparedness to take part in the upcoming Elections and also shared the challenges they have faced within the process. - Attended the Presidential Debate held on 13 th February 2016 at Kampala International Conference Center and had an opportunity to listen to the presidential candidates. - Attended the Press briefing organized by the Electoral Commission of Uganda for all Observers on 15 th February 2016 at Africana Hotel. The Mission noted that there were over 2,000 observers participating in the election observation exercise. - Held discussions with regional, continental and international election observers such as EAC, COMESA, AU, EISA, Commonwealth and the EUand discussed issues related to the preparedness of the elections. - Contacted around 23 Media houses and briefed them about IGAD and its role on the elections in Uganda. - Received briefs from IGAD Observer teams in the various deployment areas. Reports were transmitted from observers deployed in different areas to the EOM Coordinating team at the temporary Secretariat in Kampala throughout the process. 5) Assessment tools 9. An assessment tool and a checklist consisting of the poll opening, polling, counting, tallying and announcement of results that conform to international observation standards was developed by IGAD Secretariat were used. III. Preliminary Findings of the Mission a. Context 10. IGAD EOM was to observe the Presidency and Parliamentary elections scheduled for 18 th February only. Page 3 of 8

4 b. The Presidency 11. Eight candidates were contesting for the Presidency including the incumbent and one of them was a female. c. The Parliament: 12. There are 413 seats in the National Parliament; out of this 238 members are elected by universal suffrage, the remainder represent special groups like women, youth, disabled, army etc. There are 29 political parties contesting in the 2016 elections besides independent candidates. d. Constitutional and Legal Framework 13. The main legal instruments regulating the conduct of elections in Uganda include the following: The National Constitution (1995), The Electoral Commission Act (1997), The Presidential Election Act (2005), The Parliamentary Election Act (2005), The Local Governments Act (1997), The Political Parties and Organizations Act (2005), The Referendum Act, Women Councils and Special Interest Groups Acts. e. Election Management 14. The Mission noted that Electoral Commission of Uganda was set up under Article 60(1) of the 1995 Constitution of The Republic of Uganda. It is the constitutionally mandated body for election management. The Commission consists of the Chairman, Deputy Chairperson and five other members and a secretariat headed by the secretary. Members of the Commission are appointed by the President subject to approval by Parliament. Out of the five Commissioners two are women. We noted that the same members of the Commission managed the 2011 electoral process in Uganda. 15. The EOM notes that the continued service of the Commissioners offers an opportunity to engage in long-term planning, following, and post election review in order to improve on the management of the electoral process. It also permits the nurturing of institutional memory, which constitutes an important element of elections management. f. Voter Registration and Voter s Roll 16. The IGAD Observer Mission was short term Mission and, therefore, did not have the opportunity to observe the Voter Registration process. The Mission, therefore, would not make any observation on the issue of Voter Registration. However, the Mission noted that the total voter population for the year 2016 General Elections is 15,277,198 voters spread out in a total of 28,010 polling stations country wide. Page 4 of 8

5 g. Campaign Process 17. The IGAD Election Observer Mission did not observe the Campaign Process and is therefore not making any observations in this regard. But the Mission had an opportunity to attend the presidential debate held on 13 th February 2016 at Serena Hotel. h. Preparedness of the Electoral Management Body 18. The Observer Mission noted that Officials of Electoral Commission have prepared a roadmap and have been working on the preparation of the election since i. Preparation of Polling Stations 19. On 17 th February 2016, IGAD Election Observers conducted physical identification of the polling stations in preparation for the election day observation. They visited over 45 polling stations in Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso Districts and observed that none of the visited places were prepared for the election day. IV. Election Day Observations 20. The Election Observer Mission observed the following: a. Opening of the Polling Centers/Stations - We noticed campaign posters at some polling stations throughout the process. - Polling Centers did not open at 7:00 am as planned by the EC and as expected by the Voters. - Most of the polling stations opened between 8:00-10:00 with few instances of late opening e.g. Makerere University. - The polling stations were laid out in a manner that allowed easy flow of voters however a number of polling stations were inaccessible particularly for persons with disabilities and elderly. - The IGAD Election Observers had free access to the polling centers and polling stations. b. Election Materials - Election materials were delivered on the Election Day in the morning between 08:00-10:00 while in some areas it was delivered late in the afternoon. The voting materials were adequately distributed and in sufficient quantity save for some non essential materials that were not sufficient and dependant on the goodwill of the neighbors. Page 5 of 8

6 c. Election Officials - Electoral officials demonstrated excellent understanding of their roles and responsibilities in the areas observed. - Officials were cooperative, courteous and patient in conducting their mandates. However, the lean numbers of the election officials did not allow for effective supervision of the polling center. d. Independent Observers and Candidates Agents - Political parties and independent candidates were well represented by their agents at the various polling stations. - There was sufficient number of local and International observers in all the stations we observed. - In some instances, local observers were not very keen on their roles, e.g. where the ballot boxes were not sealed.. e. The Voting Process - Every voter had the same number of votes (one man one vote) and all votes carried the same weight. - Some voters were unable to locate their polling stations despite moving from one station to another one. - There were no clear methods of assisting illiterate or vulnerable voters. - The inking of the fingers at the end of the poll was not enforced in some stations or done by unauthorized personnel. f. Secrecy of Voting - The secrecy of the vote was generally upheld with the exception of isolated cases due to limited space in some polling stations that compromised it. g. Voters Turn Out - They appeared to be a high voter turn-out as compared to h. Closing and Counting Process - The Mission observed the poll counting process and found it to be organized. However, we witnessed instances where they were not clear instructions on how to reject a ballot paper as spoiled or invalid. - There were insufficient security personnel at some centers and specially during the counting where disagreements were very possible. - There was insufficient light as the counting went into darkness in some areas which may compromise the security of the materials, the officials and the observers. - We rarely witnessed the sealing of ballot boxes with the counted ballots after announcing the results of that particular polling station. Page 6 of 8

7 i. Participation of Women - The observer Mission noted high level of participation of women for election for Parliament and local council. - Women were engaged as polling officials, party agents and election observers. - They also turned out in large numbers as voters. j. Participation of the Youth - There was remarkable participation of the youth in the Electoral process serving as polling officials, local observers and voters. k. Security - The Observer Mission noted that the security environment during the election was peaceful with no major incidents recorded by IGAD observers. - Police officers were present in all polling centers visited. They were calm, did not obstruct and those that were armed were not intimidating. V. Recommendations: - Polling material should be delivered and adequately secured on the eve of polling as this will enable opening of the polling stations on time. - Polling stations should be set up at least on the eve of lection day - Training of the election officials should be intensified for efficiency. - EC to further work on the voters education on the use of Biometric machine and to involve both parties agents and election officials so that they are on the same page. - Clear marking of the location of polling stations for ease of identification should be done on the eve of the election day. - There should be enhanced security at the polling stations specially during the counting and announcing of the results. - Party agents and local observers should have badges for ease of identification. - The Commission should deploy sufficient staff where we will have a presiding officer and a deputy presiding officer for ease of supervision. - A specific officer should be in charge of ensuring the voters finger is marked with indelible ink. - A voter s list should be displayed at all polling stations for ease of the voter identifying and confirming the place of voting. - At the end of the campaigning period, the Commission should ensure that all campaigning materials are removed from the polling stations. - The results emanating from the national tally center should be more detailed as to show the primary results from the polling stations to the national tally center. Page 7 of 8

8 VI. Conclusions: We would like to commend the people of the Republic of Uganda for turning out in large number and for conducting themselves peacefully throughout the process. We would also like to commend the Electoral Commission in the manner they have handled the heavy task in the interest of the people of the Republic of Uganda. We indeed noticed certain practices that would serve as a good example to other Member States such as the availability of the voters register to agents at every polling station and the Presidential Debate. We also wish to point out that we have noticed a remarkable improvement of the whole process as compared to what we witnessed in 2011 and we hope after five years the process will be much better. Having said so, taking into account the shortcomings we observed that the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections met the minimum international standards of a free and fair election. We urge the people of the Republic of Uganda to remain calm as the process of tallying the final votes from the national Tally Center is still underway. The Mission appeals to all political players and candidates to accept the outcome of the elections and move forward on the path of democracy and development on which their great nation has embarked. In the event that there is reason to challenge the results, we urge everyone to resort to the provided legal channels to resolve any disputes. Finally, the IGAD Election Observation Mission wishes to thank the Electoral Commission, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the people of the Republic of Uganda for all the assistance rendered tomake our mission successful. God Bless Uganda! Page 8 of 8

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