KAMPALA — The European Union has joined a growing number of international voices —calling for a probe into Ugandan election abuses and violence that left more than 80 people dead in the lead up to the polls.
The EU Council of Ministers in a statement on Wednesday said the opposition candidates were harassed by security forces, the media was suppressed by the government, and observers’ offices were raided.
It called on all parties to refrain from violence and for “election challenges and complaints to be addressed in an independent and transparent manner.”
President Museveni was declared the winner for a record sixth term, amid an internet blackout and allegations of abuse.
His top challanger Bobi Wine has been under house arrest after the military surrounded his home on Friday. Bobi Wine maintains the election was rigged.
“I thank all friends in Uganda and abroad who continue to stand with us until we put an end to this indignity,” Bobi Wine said in a tweet on Thursday.
Deputy army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Deo Akiiki confirmed that in some parts of the country, including Mukono military took over the tally centers
Lt. Col. Akiiki told reporters that the institution had already arrested some of the officers that involved themselves in messing up the EC’s work.
According to Akiiki, these officers will have to face the army court martial and answer the charges that will be preferred against them.
Meanwhile, human rights groups spoke out against Bobi Wine’s detention and the political climate in the country as President Museveni embarked on an election victory tour of the country Thursday.
“It is neither a crime to stand for president nor to want to challenge the election results in court,” said the regional director of the human rights NGO, Deprose Muchena, in a statement.
“This continued confinement is politically motivated and a blatant violation of their human rights. It must be lifted immediately and without any conditions.”
In the weeks leading up to the election, there were several incidences of violence and human rights violations said Human Rights Watch.
“The abuses included killings by security forces, arrests and beatings of opposition supporters and journalists, disruption of opposition rallies, and a shutdown of the internet,” said the international human rights NGO in a statement.
In a press briefing on Wednesday, the minister for foreign affairs, Sam Kutesa, said the conduct of some of the presidential candidates was in “open defiance” of the electoral commission’s guidelines.
Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor for United States President-elect Joe Biden, described the house arrest as “deeply concerning” on Sunday.
On Saturday the US State Department called for authorities to address election “irregularities.”
The United States ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown, was blocked by Ugandan security forces from visiting presidential candidate Bobi Wine on Monday.
Uganda’s internet shutdown was described by Netblocks founder Alp Toker as a “textbook case of pre-meditated, pre-election internet blackout,” as connectivity was restored after five days.
This impeded the work of journalists, observers, and party agents, said the EU ministers.
The internet shutdown was needed to “stop the vitriolic language and incitement to violence,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a tweet on Wednesday.
The weeks leading up to Uganda’s recently concluded elections were characterized by widespread violence and human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said today. The abuses included killings by security forces, arrests and beatings of opposition supporters and journalists, disruption of opposition rallies, and a shutdown of the internet. The authorities should ensure thorough investigation and prosecution of those responsible for abuses.