• February 18, 2011
  • Resolve Roundup
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Resolve Roundup: Ugandans head to polls for elections, despite intimidation and threats to jail protesters

Today millions of Ugandans are heading to the polls to vote in the countrys second multiparty national elections in thirty years. News of these elections has been overshadowed by popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, but opposition supporters in Uganda have also been calling for their long-time, autocratic ruler (President Yoweri Museveni ) to release his grip on power. However, preparations for the elections have been marred by restrictions on media freedoms and harassment of opposition political parties by the Ugandan government and security forces. This week even saw President Museveni issue a stern warning to people who might protest the outcome of the disputed polls as he threatened to “bundle [protesters] into jails and let that be the end of the story.”

Check out the Daily Monitor, Uganda’s largest independent newspaper for live updates on the polling.

The Good: Ugandans headed to the polls today to elect their president, members of parliament and local government representatives.

The Bad: A campaign of intimidation and harassment by the Ugandan government  against opposition parties has tilted the playing field heavily in favor of candidates from President Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.

The Ugly: Senior US and international leaders, though vocal about the need for free and fair elections in Uganda, have been unable to convince the Ugandan government to halt its intimidation and harassment of opposition supporters.

Regional Security

  • LRA attacks continue to destabilize the Western Equatoria region of South Sudan as one person was killed and multiple were injured near the villages of Source Yubu and Makpandu.
  • The Episcopal Church of Sudan decried LRA violence in a statement on the recent referendum. Independently, Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussula of Western Equaoria wrote an open letter saying that the LRA poses a very serious threat to the South Sudan’s security as it gains independence and calling for greater international action to stop senior LRA commanders.
  • There has been a resurgence of insecurity in northern Congo due to increased LRA activity. LRA rebels attacking around the town of Faradje have abducted four children and killed one young girl, and also forced several humanitarian groups to temporarily evacuate their staff.
  • The Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment (HSBA) released a report cataloging recent LRA activity in South Sudan,  Congo, and the Central Africa Republic.
Northern Uganda and the 2011 Ugandan National Elections

  • The Ugandan government ordered phone companies to block text messages with words or phrases including “Egypt,” “dictator,” “army,” and “teargas.”
  • Days before the election, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has said that any trying to spark “Egypt-style” protests will be immediately jailed. Watch Museveni talk to the press about how Ugandan security forces will react to protesters here.
  • DEMGroup, an election watchdog organization, has found the Ugandan elections to be free, but not fair. They also found that over 140,000 dead voters have been registered for the polls.
  • Ugandan security officials intimidated, arrested and detained at least 16 anti-corruption advocates who distributed a joint civil society statement claiming the Ugandan government bribed members of parliament, according to Human Rights Watch.
International Community

  • Resolve called on Secretary Clinton to ask President Museveni to commit to a “zero tolerance” policy on vote rigging and intimidation and respect the results of the election should another candidate be announced the winner.
  • At a recent Twitter Town Hall meeting, Ambassador Rice condemned LRA violence and said that the US government was committed to implementing its LRA strategy “robustly.”


About the Author

Michael Poffenberger
Michael Poffenberger

Michael Poffenberger is Executive Director of The Resolve.