Human rights groups under African Elections Watch have condemned the militarisation of Ugandan elections that was held yesterday, calling it a mockery.
Addressing a Press conference at Methodist Resort and Conference Centre in Nairobi, they said democracy had consistently been threatened in East Africa by the elections.
"The African Elections Watch is concerned about the mockery of democratic principles and processes in the General Election underway in Uganda. It tells of systematic violations on freedom of expression, association, rights to information and participation in public affairs through self-determination process of elections," said Diana Gichengo, Programme Manager - Political Pluralism and Diversity at Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).
This comes after videos and pictures circulating on social media showed Ugandan police officers and military using excess force on opposition leaders and supporters. The group estimated that by yesterday afternoon 50 civilians had been killed by security agents.
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They also faulted Ugandan authorities for denying election observers and interested parties a chance to observe the elections, but only allowed selected groups.
On Wednesday, United States cancelled plans to deploy a diplomatic election observation mission, citing the electoral commission’s denial of most of its observation missions.
European Union also had committed an election observation delegation but pulled out after US’s cancellation.
The African Union did not deploy any election observation mission, which African Elections Watch said was contrary to its mandate of promoting and deepening democracy and democratic elections on the continent, as enshrined in the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, which came into force on February 15, 2012.
The group noted that voting delayed due to arrival of polling materials to polling stations at 9am.
“Additionally, the situation was worsened by the widespread failure of biometric voter registration kits, forcing Uganda Electoral Commission to resort to manual voting. We have also received reports of intimidation of party agents at polling stations,” said Ms Gichengo.
The group condemned the shutdown of internet, saying it compromised communication spaces and the right for Ugandans to get updates from leaders.