South Africa wants to explore 'election cooperation' with violence-plagued Uganda

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Minister of international relations Naledi Pandor.
Minister of international relations Naledi Pandor.
  • South Africa wants to assist Uganda, which has been plagued by election violence, ahead of its general election next year.
  • According to reports, close to 30 people have already died in violent clashes.
  • The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) is working with Ugandan diplomats to schedule a bilateral ministerial meeting.

South Africa wants to share best election practices with Uganda, rocked by recent election violence which has killed dozens, ahead of a crucial January vote.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) is working with Ugandan diplomats to schedule a bilateral ministerial engagement between the two countries.

This is according to Dirco Minister Naledi Pandor's reply to IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa's written parliamentary question on whether government intends on assisting Ugandan election officials.

"The main purpose of the engagement is to reflect on the status of our bilateral relations, particularly the servicing of bilateral agreements under the Joint Commission for Cooperation, and also to explore new areas to deepen and expand the bilateral cooperation with Uganda.

The ministerial engagement will present an opportunity for the two countries to also explore possible cooperation in the field of elections, especially the sharing of experiences and best practices," Pandor said.

WATCH | 7 dead in Uganda protests after arrest of presidential candidate

According to a report by AFP, published on France24, at least 28 people died in violent clashes between Ugandan security forces and supporters of detained opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine this week.

Two days of protests were sparked by the arrest of Wine ahead of a political rally in support of his bid for the presidency in the 14 January election.

Wine, a 38-year-old popstar-turned-politician, is challenging incumbent President Yoweri Museveni who is seeking a sixth term in power.

Should he win, Museveni will extend his 36-year rule.

Dozens died and hundreds were arrested as tyres were burned and police responded to hurled rocks with teargas, rubber bullets and live rounds in the capital Kampala and other towns.

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Pandor said South Africa would not be playing any role in the Ugandan elections.

"South Africa subscribes to the standing African Union (AU) principle of subsidiarity, which means that the regional blocs, take the lead in managing political and other issues occurring in their respective regions. In this regard, Uganda is a member of the East African Community (EAC) and the general elections to be held in January 2021 form part of the political issues under the jurisdiction of the EAC," she said.

Pandor said AU member states and other electoral observers, observed elections at the invitation of the country holding elections.

"In their observation of elections, regional bodies apply African Union and their own guidelines, which stipulate acceptable conduct by various role players including electoral bodies in managing elections. Member states have a responsibility to "safeguard the human and civil liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly, association, expression, and campaigning as well as access to the media on the part of all stakeholders, during electoral processes," she said.

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