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Africa

Uganda’s election campaign peaceful with some negative incidents, says EU observer head

media Members of the EU electoral observation mission gather outside the Sheraton … EU/Martin Jjumba

Some 130 electoral observers from the European Union deployed across Uganda on Monday for the country’s presidential polls. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has been in power since 1986 and is hoping to secure a fifth mandate. Ahead of the vote there have been some concerns about the creation of a volunteer police force called the Crime Preventers which are seen as enforcers of Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement party. RFI spoke to Eduard Kukan, chief observer, EU electoral observation mission.

Q&A: Eduard Kukan

I would like to wish all Ugandans peaceful elections and I would encourage them to go to the polls to execute their legitimate right to vote for the candidate of their choice.

So far I can report that the election campaign, as we were following it, was generally peaceful with some negative incidents.

How concerned are you that people will accept the results of the polls?

I can only hope so, I know that hope is not a policy, but there is nothing else I can say. We are assured that these will be peaceful elections and let’s hope so – it will be good for the country.

What do you make of the ban on mobile phones at polling stations?

We are all supporting the democratic process where each part of society has a role to play. There are many stakeholders and they should contribute to the positive process. Don’t expect any sharp criticism or far-reaching conclusions – we are here to follow, to observe.

So will you be taking your mobile phone to polling stations that you visit?

I don’t think so, I have good staff, they will record everything objectively to me.

What do you think about the creation of the Crime Preventers?

This is a very sensitive issue. I mentioned it in my conversations with the prime minister, with President Museveni. They explained that the country needs some good protection during the process and they simply said that the country has not enough money for the police. The Crime Preventers should be an additional force to protect the voters to have a free vote. I can only tell you that we are raising this issue because there’s a very thin line between protection of the voters and intimidation of voters and I hope that Crime Preventers will not cross that thin line.

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