U.s. And U.k., Uganda's Major Donors, Call For "free Fair, Transparent" 2021 Elections
The United States and the United Kingdom, both major donors to Gen. Yoweri Museveni's regime in Uganda have stated that they support free, fair, and credible elections, in separate statements responding to questions from Black Star News.
Recently, Gen. Museveni's Election Commission, which he personally handpicked then called "independent," announced that next year's general election will be conducted "scientifically" meaning by digital means.
Rallies are banned and candidates are supposed to campaign online and the elections also conducted digitally. There are no clear guidelines and millions of voters don't have access to digital equipment, or the experience and training for such elections.
Ostensibly the measure is to protect Ugandans from the Covid-19 pandemic but Bobi Wine, a member of Parliament and leader of the People Power Movement, and Dr. Kizza Besigye, a leading figure in the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, have rejected the announcement as a ploy to rig the vote in favor of Gen. Museveni. It's been widely reported that Dr. Besigye was the victim of vote rigging by the regime in at least three past elections, including 2016.
The opposition leaders have said the country's constitution allows the life of the legislature to be extended, meaning elections could be postponed. Another option is to adopt social safety and health measures that can protect voters who head to the polls, Bobi Wine says.
Asked for comment on the Uganda opposition leaders' rejection of Museveni EC's election roadmap, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said the "United States has been consistent in supporting free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections that reflect the will of the people of Uganda. Ugandans deserve to have their voices heard in an electoral process that respects the rights of all citizens."
A spokesperson for U.K Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Dominic Raab said, "The UK supports free and fair elections in Uganda and we are following the proposed changes to campaign regulations closely.”
The U.S.'s annual financial and military support to Uganda amounts to nearly $1 billion while the U.K. provides about $100 millions in foreign aid.
A spokesperson for the EU, which over the past three years has provide about $150 million to the regime, didn't respond to a request for comment.