NOVEMBER 30, 2010: Don't Threaten Election Monitors - Rights Activists

Don't Threaten Election Monitors - Rights Activists

SOURCE: The Monitor

By Emmanuel Mulondo

The Electoral Commission should restrain all political parties and candidates from threatening and intimidating election monitors, the Uganda Human Rights Network (Hurinet) has said.

Hurinet says intimidation of poll monitors would "adversely affect the credibility of electoral process and its outcomes". The call was contained in a statement by group's executive director Mohammed Ndifuna on Friday, in which he condemned the NRM threats to de-register the Democracy Monitoring Group (Demgroup) because of a critical appraisal report on the on-going electoral process.

If unchecked, Mr Ndifuna said, threats like NRM spokesman Ofwono Opondo's against civil society would "severely affect the work of human rights defenders and pro-democracy actors and could keep away observers from monitoring the election process."

Addressing the press in Kampala last week, Mr Opondo attacked Demgroup for a critical report it released indicating that President Museveni was using state resources for his campaigns to the disadvantage of other candidates.

However, Mr Opondo called for retraction of the report or else Demgroup be de-registered. But said Mr Ndinfuna's statement, "Local observers have a right to report to the public whatever mishaps they have seen not commensurate with democratic dispensation."

Hurinet said Mr Opondo's threats "undermines the electoral process" and violates "national, regional and international standards for free and fair elections which require constant monitoring of the electoral process by independent actors."

Mr Ndifuna called on NRM and other political parties to act on the recommendations of poll monitors, especially if they hinge on blatant violation of the electoral laws.

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