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International poll observers from the European Union have called on Uganda’s Electoral Commission to release election outcomes and scanned copies of declaration results forms online from all polling stations to allow for scrutiny by the public.
The European Union Election Observer Mission (EU-EOM), headed by Eduard Kukan, said the publication of the material constituted international best practices in the conduct of democratic elections.
Ugandans voted on February 18 in an election that was harshly criticised by international observers from the EU and the Commonwealth group describing it as short of being free and fair and whose results have been disputed by the opposition.
“The Electoral Commission’s accountability is very important in the post-electoral environment,” said Kukan in the EU-EOM post-election statement Thursday.
The EU, which still has 10 election analysts and 30 observers deployed in the country, took a jibe at the State which has since election day kept the opposition Forum for Democratic Change flagbearer Kizza Besigye either under house arrest or in police cells, thwarting his efforts to gather evidence with which to challenge the election outcome in court.
“The EU-EOM will continue to observe the post-electoral environment. The electoral process is completed only when all candidates have rightfully exercised the relevant legal avenues without fear, intimidation or other undue restrictions,” the statement said.
State security has kept Dr Besigye from getting access to FDC officials, his family and lawyers, a situation that made it difficult for his legal team to prepare and file for a presidential election petition, whose deadline falls on Tuesday March 1.
The law provides 10 days to challenge the outcome of the presidential elections after announcement of results. Besides the restrictions on Besigye’s freedom of movement in Kampala, the police swooped on FDC candidates and party agents in Mbarara, western Uganda, while the party was still collecting the declaration of result forms, from its agents in the field.
The EU-EOM cautioned the police to adhere to the rule of law and to show equal respect for citizen’s fundamental freedoms.