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The Road to 2016: Citizens’ Perception on Uganda’s 2016 Election (A Synthesis Report).

This report is a synthesis of the findings of a nationwide survey and a fact -finding mission that were undertaken by the Human Rights and Peace Centre (HURIPEC) of the School of Law, Makerere University and Kituo Cha Katiba: Eastern Africa Centre for Constitutional Development (KcK) under a project entitled: The Road to 2016:Citizens Perceptions of Uganda’s Forthcoming Elections.  The report covers the period August – December 2015.  The project seeks to contribute towards Uganda‘s democratisation process by providing a critical assessment and evaluation of the pre-election environment in Uganda and to test citizen perception to elections in general and the 2016 elections in particular. It interrogated key electoral issues through targeted questions. Views were collected from Ugandans from across the country and from selected parts of the northern, western, north western, eastern, north eastern; central and southern regions of Uganda.  This report, a result of the findings from the Survey and Mission, adopts a slightly different approach from the many produced in the run-up to the 2016 election. The project reached out to both urban and rural based audiences, taking the perceptions of a cross-section of the Ugandan citizenry about what they perceived to be the most critical issues of concern in the count-down to the polling.    These range from the status of citizens as bearers of rights in elections in Uganda; the meaning of elections to an average‘ Ugandan; components of a free, fair and credible election; the work of public entities such as the Electoral Commission, Uganda Human Rights Commission and the Judiciary. The views of special interest groups such as political parties, civil society, academia, religious and cultural institutions, development partners, youth and women were purposely targeted. A more qualitative than quantitative approach of discerning information was adopted. Accordingly, respondent‘s views expressed in this report are, as much as possible, captured in their original form.  The report demonstrates that Ugandans are in a state of anxiety and concern about what the February 18th2016 franchise will bring, including the structural weaknesses, lack of preparedness and obvious disunity amongst political parties; the failure of legal and structural reform; the signs of un readiness of the state-mandated election monitoring body – the Electoral Commission and the obvious mishandling of the voter registration exercise; as well as the resounding alarm that the playing field is not level. Many were also fearful of the threat of electoral violence. On the other hand, state agencies in charge of the management of the 2016 election brushed aside charges that the Electoral Commission will not deliver a free and fair election. Team interactions with various stakeholders such as the Uganda Police Force allayed the fears expressed by the public of insecurity and violence. The Police, which carries the mandate of security preservation, stated that it was possessed of both the will and the means to address any concerns which may be presented in this arena that would threaten peace and security in the country.  All in all, citizens' perceptions cannot be overlooked or underestimated.  On a large part, an election is about what people observe and what this leads them to believe.  Addressing those perceptions is thus an important aspect of leveling the electoral playing field because   confidence gives credibility to the process and provides a foundation on which election observers can make valid and grounded assessments.  We are grateful to the Open Society Institute for the support that enabled us to successfully implement the Citizen Perceptions project. We are confident that the project outcomes will provide a useful resource to various stakeholders and contribute towards a peaceful electoral period for 2016 and beyond, as well as deepen the democratisation process in Uganda.    #CitizensPerceptionOnUganda2016Elections @huripecmakerere @KituochaKatiba Dr. Zahara Nampewo: Director, HURIPEC      Ms. Edith Kibalama: Executive Director, KcK 

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Dr. Christopher Mbazira
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