Uganda: A Pre-election Assessment Report

Publication Date: 
16 Jan 1996

Publication Type:



From November 19 to December 8, 1995, IFES conducted a pre-election assessment in Uganda with funding from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The IFES team was asked to evaluate a number of factors affecting the conduct of that country's presidential and parliamentary elections, which must be held before the second week of July 1996.

The IFES assessment team was invited to Uganda to answer a series of three questions. The first is whether the technical capacity for organized, timely elections exists; the second, if the capacity exists, how the process can best be supported. These issues are empirical in nature and may be answered with a series of logical, quantifiable arguments. The third question is whether the outcome of the elections can and will be regarded as free and fair by international standards. This report has been prepared as a contribution to continued discussions on the Ugandan election process between political activists, election officials, education professionals and the international community.

The electoral and political events which have taken place in Uganda during the past two years have been described by the National Resistance Movement, particularly its leader, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni as essential steps in a transition from dictatorship to democracy. Indeed, the restructuring of the government, the Constituent Assembly elections, and the resultant Constitution reflect the hard lessons of Uganda's history since independence combined with political developments on the international level. The Constitution represents a recognition of human rights around the world as expressed in numerous charters and agreements: Where other countries have granted these rights under internal or external pressure, the Ugandan Constitution creates a society based on the sovereignty of human rights. The parliament structure, which assigns seats to members of society which might not otherwise have a voice in government, is a recognition that the privilege of decision-making does not exist for one group in society to extend or withhold. Within the context of Mrican political development, the Ugandan constitution strives to treat all of its citizens as equal under the law, and deserving of state protection of fundamental human rights. With this report, IFES provides an examination of several technical factors affecting the elections, and combines this information with a panoramic view of the political will of the Ugandan people, and the level of their participation in the process.

This report is organized into eight sections. Section I, the Introduction, establishes the basis of the IFES mission. Section II presents international criteria for free and fair elections as a framework for the IFES team's analysis. Section III provides the historical context of this period of the Ugandan political transition. Section IV details the constitution, electoral law issues, and the composition and duties of the Electoral Commission. Section V discusses the tasks which remain between now and the elections, and details the technical capacity for the accomplishment of those tasks. Section VI deals with the comparison of the established aspects of free and fair elections to the current political realities, and reports on the influence of various actors in the process. Finally, sections VII and VIII are the presentation of IFES' conclusions and recommendations.


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