Restore Term Limits — Foreign Observers

Foreign election observation missions want Ugandans to restore presidential term limits if democracy is to prevail in the country.

EC-EOM Head, Eduard Kukan (Centre in the back) meeting with other heads of international election observation missions at Sheraton Kampala
EC-EOM Head, Eduard Kukan (Centre in the back) meeting with other heads of international election observation missions at Sheraton Kampala

The statement from the East African Community (EAC) Election Observation Mission (EOM) comes before the Independent Electoral Commission declared NRM candidate Yoweri Museveni as the 2016 presidential poll winner, yesterday.

While addressing a press conference at Sheraton Hotel Kampala yesterday, Head of EAC-EOM mission Ali Hassan Mwinyi, former President of Tanzania in his preliminary post-election report recommended that Ugandan parliament should ‘re-evaluate the utility of the removal of presidential term limits in the electoral system.’

In an exclusive interview with Abdullah Makame, Personal Secretary to Mwinyi, Africa is still lagging democratically because of lack of presidential term limits.

“Most of the African countries have been having a limited base for presidents. If you want to practice multiparty democracy, it is important at some stage to introduce term limits tenure so that sufficiency in the top leadership of the country prevails,” Makame said.

It should be remembered that in 2005, Parliament overwhelmingly voted to remove term limits from the constitution, giving Museveni a lifeline to continue as president. However, in 2012, MPs led by Gerald Karuhanga, prepared to move a motion aimed at amending the Constitution and re-instating presidential term limits which has stalled until to date. Previously, Uganda had a constitutional limit in place, allowing a maximum term of office of ten years (two five-year terms).

Despite the fact that EAC-EOM observed that the February 18 election was peaceful, Mwinyi observed that at least 78% of the polling stations his team visited opened about 4hours late due to late arrival of polling materials and general poor preparation of the polling personnel.


Meanwhile, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EC-EOM) led by Chief Observer Eduard Kukan did not have fair words for the national electoral body for ‘failing’ to conduct a transparent election.

“The EC lacks independence, transparency and the trust of stakeholders. The EC narrowly interpreted its mandate by limiting it to the organization of the technical aspects of the elections. Moreover, the EC lacked transparency in its decisions and failed to inform the voters and contestants on key elements of the electoral process in a timely and comprehensive manner,” Kukan who is a Slovak member of the European Parliament said.

Kukan added that there is little evidence that EC boss Dr Badru Kiggundu had learnt anything from their previous recommendations from the 2006 and 2011 general election.

“In the last election, there were about 32 recommendations, but only 2-3 were implemented. In fact we made the same recommendation even in 2006, but nothing has been put into consideration,”

EU-EOM also castigated Uganda Police Force and the Military for use of selective force to infringe on the rights of the opposition candidates that is through unnecessary arrests and misuse of teargas.

“While the EC Chairperson was still tallying and collecting data from their agents in the field, the police stormed FDC’s party headquarters using teargas and arrested the flag bearer Kizza Besigye and the party’s leadership. This action severely violates freedom of expression. Recruitment of crime preventers added to the intimidation of the voters,” He said.

Jo Leinen, Chairman of the European Parliament applauded Ugandans for enduring the scotching sunshine and turned up in large numbers to vote despite what he termed as ‘organisational failure’ from the EC.

He condemned the hefty expenditure and use of government funds by the ruling NRM and incumbent President Yoweri that ‘distorted the fairness of the campaign.’

“It is so disturbing that the ruling party used state funds to pay voters. There should be a clear demarcation between government funds and party funds,” Jo Leinen said.

Several foreign observation missions such African Union (AU), EC, EAC and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) also criticized Uganda Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) among other media organizations for failing to provide equal publicity to all presidential candidates.