A combined team of international election observers has urged all stakeholders involved in Uganda General elections to uphold peace as the country counts down towards the voting day.
In a joint statement issued in Kampala, the Heads of the Election Observers Mission from COMESA, the African Union, the Commonwealth, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the East African Community (EAC), International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), and the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), urged all stakeholders, including political parties and personalities concerned with the elections to avoid propagating events that could raise tensions during the election period.
â€œWe the Heads of International Election Observer Missions in Uganda hereby appeal to all functionaries, electoral commission, political parties, candidates and personalities to refrain from any act, statement or dissemination of information that may cause adversely affect the peaceful and orderly conduct of elections on Thursday 18th February 2016â€, read part of the statement.
The join team appreciated the preparations done by political parties and personalities concerned with the elections, but noted that some events that occurred on 15th February, 2016 could raise tensions. At the same time the Mission Leaders urged all eligible voters to turn out in large numbers and perform their civil responsibility in a peaceful, orderly and lawful manner.
The leaders comprised H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo (Commonwealth) H.E. Ali Hassan Mwinyi (EAC) H.E. Rupiah Banda (Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa) Amb. Ashraf Rashed (COMESA) and Mr. Yufnalis Okubo (IGAD) among others.
Speaking at the meeting, Amb. Rashed said the observer missions shared the common objective of ensuring that credible elections are conducted in a conflict free and fair environment. They agreed to strengthen coordination amongst and set a joint meeting for Wednesday 17th February 2016 to compare notes prior to the voting day.
Earlier, a combined team of observers from the African Union and COMESA met with the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Uganda Ambassador Julius Mugume for a brief on the preparations of the general elections.
The AU mission was led by Her Ladyship Justice Sophia Akuffo, former President of the African Court on Human and Peoplesâ€™ Rights and Judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana and the COMESA mission leader Amb. Ashraf Rashed.
The PS assured them that election campaigns had been peaceful and invited them to attend some of the rallies to get a clear picture of the happenings on the ground as the parties wound up their campaigns.
Ambassador Rashed stressed that the objective of the election observer missions was not to interfere in the electoral process but to ensure that the people exercised their right to vote without any problems.
Uganda goes to the polls, Thursday, 18th February 2016.