A team of senior officials from the Secretariats of the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is in Kampala to plan for a joint observer mission for the general elections in Uganda slated for February 18.
The three bodies are implementing a Regional Political Integration Programme supported by the European Union (EU).
The Programme, whose lead agency is EAC, is meant to promote political best practices and democracy, and as noted, free and fair elections are an important component of democracy.
According to Robert Ssali, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of EAC affairs, the move to plan a joint election observation is aimed at promoting good governance in the region.
“Last time, these blocs were in Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania to observe elections and this helped in promoting democracy and free and fair elections,” he said.
Ssali added that election observation is a tool for conflict prevention and should be used to improve democracy.
The planning team is expected to hold meetings with the Chairperson and Commissioners of the Electoral Commission as well as other organizations notably the EU, which has already dispatched an observer mission to Uganda.
The team is led by the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, Beatrice Kiraso, who has said that being a Ugandan, she will only facilitate planning and training of the observation mission but will not participate in the observation itself.
“The objective of this planning is to ensure that, as a region, we move together so as to have a sizeable mission that will be more visible and have better impact,” said Kiraso.
“Working with other organizations will give the EAC more practical experience that will contribute to the finalization of the EAC Elections Monitoring and Observation Manual.”