Wednesday, February 23, 2011

IGAD, EAC and COMESA endorse Ugandan poll

Addis Ababa, February 21 (WIC) - The presidential and parliamentary elections were free, according to observers from three African regional economic organisations of IGAD, EAC and COMESA.

“We commend and urge the people of Uganda to sustain the peace that characterised the entire election period,” Ambassador Hussein Dado from IGAD said in a statement on behalf of the observers.

The group deployed over 70 observers from 14 African countries, which included Burundi, Djibouti, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia, Somaliland, Sudan, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In the interim report released to the media at Imperial Royale Hotel on Sunday, Dado said: “In areas observed, campaigns were peaceful despite a few isolated cases in Tororo, Masaka, and Lira.

In Tororo, the mission observed clashes between supporters of two contestants on tribal lines.

He said media coverage had improved in 2011 compared to the 2006 elections.

The observers, however, noted incidences of “missing” names, double registration, and some voters not identifying or accessing their respective polling stations.

He said most polling centres visited by the observer teams opened after 7:00am due to the late delivery of election materials. “In contrast, an isolated incident was observed at Summit View polling station which opened at 6:30am,” he said.

They said the presence of military personnel is believed to have intimidated the voters.

“Even though the open air voting lends itself a transparent process, it compromised the secrecy of the ballot as witnessed in some areas,” he added.

He recommended that the Electoral Commission train polling personnel and equip them with knowledge and skills on voting operations.