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A section of opposition leaders in Eastern Uganda have petitioned
the European Union ambassadors on the upcoming 2021 general elections.
Nine European Union Ambassadors led by the EU envoy Atillio Pacifici have since
Monday been in Mbale town for their end of year retreat.
The ambassadors including that of France, Ireland, Netherlands, Austria,
Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Sweden on Thursday held with a closed-door meeting
with Opposition leaders from the Democratic Party, Forum for Democratic Change
(FDC), Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and People Power.
Addressing a press conference about the key highlights and messages received in
their retreat, the Head of the European Union delegation Atillio Pacifici noted
that they received a message from the opposition leaders about the need to have
an independent neutral Police Force ahead of the 2021 elections in order to
ensure fairness in the polls.
Ambassador Pacifici also noted that the leaders highlighted the importance of
having an independent Electoral Commission also raising concern about the
anticipated violence and emergence of militia groups. Also reported by the
Ambassador was the call by the Opposition on the importance of having electoral
Pacifici, however, noted that the call for electoral reforms is long overdue
since they also made recommendations several years ago which are yet to be put
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Also in line with the upcoming elections, the Denmark Ambassador Nicolaj
Hejberg said that the leaders were also concerned about the on-going voter
verification exercise where majority of youth reportedly risk being left out.
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However, Belgium Ambassador Rudi Veestraeten and EU Ambassador Pacifici said
that their main interaction with the opposition and the ruling National
Resistance Movement (NRM) party was not to side with one of them but to learn
more about the country’s political environment.
Denmark’s Ambassador Hejberg further emphasized that one of their duties is to
encourage dialogue among all parties so that to promote good governance and
avoid violence in elections.
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France Ambassador Jules-Armand Aniambossou also said that listening to all
political sides in the country is important saying that their duty was not to
support any or finance them to further their ambitions.
Asked about the message they received while meeting NRM’s Women League
Chairperson Lydia Wanyoto and the Police officers in the Eastern region,
Pacifici said that issues about having people lining up during the election for
purposes of openness were raised, something the EU does not agree since it
infringes on secrecy.
Pacifici said that the officers reassured them about security during the
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The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee is currently considering several
electoral reforms presented by government recently. Also, another
Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2019 authored by Shadow Attorney General William
Niwagaba that seeks to put in place several reforms ahead of the 2021 general
elections is in the pipeline.