Uganda: Elections

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 4 February 2021.

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Photo of The Bishop of Bristol The Bishop of Bristol Bishop

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the government of Uganda about reports (1) of intimidation, (2) that that government restricted access to online services and social media, and (3) of other irregularities, during the general election in that country on 14 January.

Photo of Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The UK has significant concerns which remain unaddressed including the treatment of opposition candidates in the run-up to and since the elections, the internet shutdown during the elections and subsequent restrictions on social media, and the treatment of journalists throughout this period. The Minister for Africa raised the importance of British officials being accredited to observe the elections with Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa and with the Ugandan High Commission on 12 January 2021. The UK deployed 51 Election Observers across Uganda on election day, covering over 120 polling stations. They observed and evaluated the elections and reported back to the British High Commission in Kampala. We have been consulting with the diplomatic community in Kampala, civil society actors, other international observers, and the Government of Uganda to ensure we have a comprehensive and accurate picture of the elections. We have also urged the Government of Uganda to respond to the concerns raised. As the Minister for Africa and the British High Commissioner stated in their tweets on 14 January, we are concerned that the internet shutdown in Uganda impacted the transparency of the elections and broader freedom of expression. The British High Commission Kampala raised their concerns on the internet shutdown with the Government of Uganda which was eventually lifted on 18 January. Following the Presidential election results on 16 January, the Minister for Africa set out in a statement our significant concerns about the overall political climate surrounding the elections and has urged the Government of Uganda to meet its international human rights commitments.

The treatment of opposition figures post-election including Robert Kyagulanyi is unacceptable and the Minister for Africa expressed his concerns about this in his tweet on 19 January. We welcome the High Court of Uganda's decision of 25 January that the de facto house arrest of Kyagulanyi was unlawful and unconstitutional and that these restrictions have now been lifted. The British High Commission Kampala pressed the Ugandan authorities to end these unacceptable restrictions on Robert Kyagulanyi's liberty. Our High Commissioner in Kampala continues to meet political actors from all parties and met Kyagulanyi on 27 January 2021. They discussed the political situation in Uganda, the restrictions to political freedoms before and after the elections and the concerns raised over electoral processes. The High Commissioner urged all parties to reject violence, engage in peaceful dialogue and follow due process to address any electoral irregularities. As a long-standing partner to Uganda, and a steadfast advocate for Ugandan democracy, the United Kingdom will continue to follow post-election developments closely.

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