Former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group to Uganda’s 2016 General Elections, has encouraged government and opposition parties to engage in dialogue and exercise restraint following the announcement of results by the Electoral Commission.
President Obasanjo stated: “For the benefit of all Ugandans, I urge government and opposition stakeholders to work together in a spirit of open and inclusive dialogue. Police and security forces and political party supporters should exercise restraint and avoid unnecessary confrontations. Restrictions on movement of, and accessibility to, all political leaders should be removed, to allow for an atmosphere conducive to dialogue to prevail.
“In our interim statement, attention was pointed to deficiencies and failures in the electoral process which obviously had a detrimental effect on the fairness and credibility of the elections. However, where there is dissatisfaction with any aspect of the election results, all the avenues set out in the law should be utilised.”
President Obasanjo further added: “I welcome moves by the Government of Uganda to lift the restrictions on social media which were imposed on election day. Social media are tools of freedom of speech and expression and are a part of modern democracy.”
On 20 February, President Obasanjo issued the interim assessment of the Commonwealth Observer Group. The observers said Uganda’s 2016 General Elections were marked by a lack of a level electoral playing field, increased prevalence of money in politics, and alleged misuse of state resources. The observers also raised question marks over the secrecy of the ballot and the competence of the Electoral Commission to manage the process.
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