By Moses Mulondo
Government has asked all Ugandans in the spirit of the East African Community to pray for peaceful elections in Kenya due on Monday.
Addressing journalists at the Media Centre in Kampala, information and national guidance minister Mary Karooro Okurut said, “Kenya is a very key neighbour to Uganda” and so “whatever happens to them also affects us.”
The minister commended Kenya’s electoral process which she considered to be peaceful, credible and a reflection of political maturity.
“The Government of the Republic of Uganda commends the Kenya Electoral Commission, the candidates, Electorate and all Kenyans for conducting themselves maturely, responsibly and with civility.
“As a result, the various activities of the election cycle, [right] from updating the voters’ register, nomination of candidates, campaigns, presidential debates have all been rolled out in a commendably sobre, calm and peaceful manner,” Karooro said.
The post-election violence which engulfed Kenya in 2007 was very costly and offered some painful lessons to both Kenya and Uganda.
“We believe that it is partly because of the sad lessons from the 2007 polls that more electoral reforms and safeguards were introduced to ensure a credible poll process and because of that, the Ugandan government has faith the entire process will end peacefully and cement the country’s democratic credentials,” she stated.
The Uganda government also advises all the presidential candidates in the race to resort to the judicial process and avoid any extra-judicial attempts in case they are not satisfied with the outcome, so as to prevent a repeat of violence.
Asked whether the Uganda government has plans to amend the electoral reforms to conform to the multiparty system requirements like an electoral commission agreed upon by all stakeholders, Karooro said any proposals aimed at improving Uganda’s electoral process to make it more credible are welcome.
Uganda’s Electoral Commission official (EC) Tom Baruku this week said they have already embarked on drawing the roadmap for the 2016 elections – part of which will be tabling various electoral reforms in Parliament to improve Uganda’s electoral process.
The EC team led by the chairman Dr. Badru Kiggundu, Uganda’s Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) and Lydia Wanyoto who is coordinating the East African Community observer team are all in Kenya to observe and draw lessons from the country’s electoral process.
Under a new constitution which gave more autonomy to state institutions and led to the creation of an independent electoral commission, eight candidates are vying for the presidency of Kenya.
The candidates include Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement, Uhuru Kenyata of Kenya of National Alliance Party, Musalia Mudavadi of the Jubilee Coalition, Peter Kenneth of Kenya National Congress, Raphael Tuju of Party of Action, Joseph Ole Kiyiapi of Restore And Build Kenya Party and Martha Karua of NARC Kenya.
Most reports in the Kenya media have put Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyata in the lead followed by Musalia Mudavadi.