Africa-Press – Tanzania. ELECTION years tend to raise political temperatures anywhere in the world, and it is no exception to East African Community (EAC) member states, some holding elections in succession.
With promotion of regional peace, security and good governance being one of EAC’s priorities for a stint stretching 2017 – 2021, four countries have been or are in election mood.
Rwanda held it in 2017 with the incumbent President Paul Kagame retaining his seat by a 99 per cent winning margin.
President Kagame of Rwanda won a landslide victory, securing a third term in office and extending his 17 years in power.
He has since won international praise for the stability and economic development he has brought to Rwanda since the 1994 genocide, when an estimated 800,000 people were killed.
Following Rwanda was Burundi that held its general election May, last year, with the CNDD-FDD ruling party candidate, General Evariste Ndayishimiye securing 68.72 per cent of the vote.
He took over from the late Pierre Nkurunziza who decided to step down. It was June 8th that he passed on.
General Ndayishimiye beat the main opposition candidate, Mr Agathon Rwasa, and five others, avoiding a runoff by securing more than 50 per cent of the vote.
In the same year, Tanzania conducted its general election with the incumbent President John Magufuli maintaining winning ways.
Elections in Mainland Tanzania took place on October 28, and in Zanzibar on October 27 and 28.
On October 30, the National Electoral Commission announced that President Magufuli of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party had won with 84 per cent of the vote ahead of his closest challenger, Mr Tundu Lissu of the opposition Chadema party.
This week is Uganda’s turn, as incumbent President Yoweri Museveni is seeking a reelection, battling with the opposition frontrunner, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known by his stage name Bobi Wine.
Ugandans vote on Thursday in a presidential election pitting long-time leader Museveni against 10 candidates. Kenya will hold a general election next year while South Sudan is getting ready for 2023.
With EAC countries holding such elections, there are many, competing interests and issues that may play defining roles.
Underneath, and perhaps playing a large part of the current political climates, some partner states are struggling with the same socio-economic challenge: majority young, unemployed populations.
With promotion of regional peace, security and good governance being one of EAC’s priorities, electoral management bodies (EMBs) have become a keystone of the process of democratisation in the EAC countries.
Their composition, mandate and activities have attracted increasing public attention. In some countries, EMBs and the rules of the electoral game are the focus of passionate interest and debate each time elections come around.
In others, the debates around EMBs are semi-permanent and attract attention even outside the electoral cycle. Observers in the past elections were happy with the way elections were conducted.
For Rwanda, the EAC Election Observer Mission (EOM) was headed by the former Kenyan Vice President Moody Awori.
In Burundi EOM was under former Tanzanian Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda. Former President of Burundi, Mr Sylvestre Ntibantunganya headed EOM in Tanzania.
In Uganda, EOM is under a former president of Burundi, Mr Domitien Ndayizeye. He says that EAC attaches great importance to the promotion of democracy that in turn guarantees political stability in the entire region.
“Further to the invitation of the Electoral Commission of Uganda, the EAC is deploying an Election Observation Mission to the General Election in the Republic of Uganda.
The mission will observe the presidential and parliamentary elections.
“EAC believes that regional observation can play a critically important supportive role that would enhance the credibility of the elections, reinforce the work of domestic observer groups and increase public confidence in the entire electoral process,” he said at a Kampala hotel.
The mission aims at contributing to strengthening political accountability amongst political actors and the Government of Uganda in addition to providing an opportunity for other EAC Partner States to share experiences on election management with a view to learning from each other and sharing best practices.
Objectives of the mission include observing the electoral process, offering a balanced and informed assessment of the elections; creating public confidence in the electoral processes by encouraging voters and other stakeholders to participate freely in an environment that promotes competition and tolerance without intimidation and violence.
EOM identifies challenges, weaknesses, opportunities and strengths that can be harnessed into best practices for the region through peer learning by the EMBs.
It assesses the legitimacy of the electoral processes and outcome in accordance with internationally accepted standards and makes recommendations for strengthening of electoral processes for the benefit of not only the Republic of Uganda but for the EAC region as a whole.