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Auditors Evaluate Demand for Independent Audit of Elections

Rob Newsome, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international audit firm and leader risk assurance explains that Uganda may not be able to conduct a successful audit since the opposition lacks confidence in the Electoral Commission and other government entities. He says the Electoral Commission is the axle of the process.

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Opposition political parties are bracing themselves for a national demonstration demanding for an internationally supervised independent audit of the February 18 presidential election. 

The national demonstration is planned for tomorrow May 5, according to a programme released by Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the Secretary General of the Forum for Democratic Change –FDC party.

He says party members and well-wishers will march from the FDC head office in Najjanankumbi to Nakivubo Blue Primary School in Kampala as well as several other venues across the country despite a court order issued last Friday by Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma banning activities organized under the ‘Free My Vote' defiance campaign.

The party first demanded for an independent audit in March stating that there are glaring contradiction between results declared by the Electoral Commission and declaration forms obtained by FDC agents across the country.

Results declared by the Electoral Commission indicated that the National Resistance Movement candidate Yoweri Museveni emerged winner of the process with 60.8 percent of the vote. He was followed by his four time challenger Kizza Besigye, the FDC party presidential candidate with 35.4 percent of the vote.

Although FDC never released its tally, Nandala says the discrepancies in the results can only be resolved through an independent audit. Similarly FDC president General Mugisha Muntu says that an independent audit will provide a check list to scrutinize alleged fraud or malpractice in the process.

He says this may involve looking at recounts, eligibility of voters, missing details and other forms of statistical gaps.

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Fixon Akonya Okonye, the acting internal auditor in the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development says that an audit is about providing independent assurance about the processes and outcomes of such an exercise.

He adds that although many audits arise from the law and requirements of an organization, it can also be undertaken in special circumstances especially where there is suspicion for fraud.  He however says that a good audit must be properly planned and executed.

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Audits were used to verify results of elections in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2014, in Haiti in 2010, in Kosovo in 2009 and 2010, and in the poll for a new Constitution in Iraq in 2005.

According to a report by democracy international on Election audits, when conducted in response to allegations of fraud, a post-election audit can increase the credibility of the outcome.

Rob Newsome, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers, an international audit firm and leader risk assurance explains that Uganda may not be able to conduct a successful audit since the opposition lacks confidence in the Electoral Commission and other government entities. He says the Electoral Commission is the axle of the process.

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However, the Electoral Commission says they cannot conduct a fresh audit of the election results stating that various forms of audit where already carried out at the district and main tally centers.

EC Spokesperson Jotham Taremwa says that although audits have been done in some countries, the law in Uganda is clear on challenging election results. He states the Supreme Court equally audited the credibility of the elections in the petition filed by former presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi.

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But FDC President Maj. Gen Mugisha Muntu says Government and Electoral Commission need to accept the audit in order to restore people's confidence in the electoral process.

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