The Uganda Human Rights Commission has said despite some glitches, the January, 14 presidential and parliamentary elections were free and fair.
Speaking while presenting its preliminary statement, Dr Katebalirwa Amooti,the chairperson of the UHRC said as part of their observation mission, they sent a delegation of 183 observers who were able to monitor 1830 polling stations across the country.
“Based on the extensive observation of the polling exercise that was done countrywide as well as verified reports that were received from the media, contacts from other observers both nationally and outside the country, the commission has concluded that the presidential and parliamentary polling exercise was carried out within a secure , peaceful and tranquil atmosphere which enabled a free and fair outcome,”Katebalirwa said on Tuesday afternoon.
Commenting on the issue of heavy deployment of both the army and police during the election day, the Uganda Human Rights Commission chairperson said there is no evidence to show that this stopped people from participating in the election, adding that on the contrary, it gave people the courage to cast their ballot.
“Although some of the voters allegedly felt intimidated by the heavy deployment, on the whole, the deployment of security didn’t inconvenience voters. In fact many of them told us that they felt secure due to the presence of security agencies.”
According to the UHRC boss, the security personnel who had been heavily deployed remained disciplined and acted professional during election day.
Katebalirwa explained that whereas at some polling stations a number of candidates didn’t have agents over unknown reasons, this didn’t deter the process of voting and counting the votes from being smooth and transparent.
He insisted that the agents for candidates who were present at the polling stations were respected by everyone.
The Uganda Human Rights Commission chairperson however urged those who feel aggrieved by the outcome of the polls should seek redress from courts of law, other than resorting to riots.
“If you feel not satisfied with the results, avoid resorting to intimidation, violence, riots and destruction of property. Go to courts of law for redress,” he said.
The report by the Human Rights Commission adds onto the one by the East African Community observers who also hailed the country for holding a free and fair election.
The team led by former Burundi President, Domitien Ndayizeye said in their preliminary report that whereas there were some issues, the elections were generally free and fair.
These developments have however been disputed by the National Unity Platform presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi who said the elections were rigged as he questioned the security besiege at his home in Magere.
His party has since said they are gathering evidence to be tabled in court to challenge Museveni’s victory.