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US: Uganda’s elections were not free and fair

The United States says Uganda’s general elections held in January were marred by ‘illegalities and irregularities.

The East African country went to the polls, an exercise the Electoral Commission (EC) declared incumbent Yoweri Museveni had won after gathering 68% of the vote to secure a sixth-five-year term in office.

Youthful politician and pop star musician Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine emerged second with 38%, but protested the results and filed a case at the Supreme Court.

He however withdrew the petition before it was heard and determined, citing a lack of transparency and fairness at the court, and intimidation of his supporters.

The polling exercise had turned controversial even before it commenced, with the US calling off its observation while indicating the voting will lack transparency and accountability.

And in a media statement released on Friday, April 16, Secretary of State nominee for Joe Biden’s administration, Antony Blinken said that actions by Museveni’s regime during the entire electoral process destabilized democracy and respect for human rights.

In the polls, about 409 polling stations had a 100% voter turnout, according to official results by the Electoral Commission.

The US has since imposed restrictions of travel against persons it says unduly influenced the outcome of the elections.

“I hereby announce visa restrictions on all those believed to be answerable for undermining the democratic process in Uganda, including during the country’s latest presidential polls and the campaign period that proceeded it,” the statement reads in part.

Blinken adds that the actions are an indication of a continued downward course for Uganda’s democracy and respect for human rights as recognized and protected by its Constitution.

“Security forces in Uganda should be held responsible for the deaths and injuries of lots of innocent people including bystanders and supporters of the opposition. Security forces meted violence against unarmed journalists. These incidents took place before, during, and after the electoral process,” said Blinken in the statement.