We are less than 2 days from presidential elections in Uganda, a place that already is regularly left out of the front pages and trending topics in many parts of the world. When you add to its usual lack of coverage the fact that right now whatever international news is getting attention is focused on any and all protests in Algeria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Iraq or Bahrain, it is a bad time for anyone that wants to hear more from Uganda.
Myself in my own work, though I say I focus on under reported news, Uganda and Ugandan elections are topics that I have not touched on often enough. Still, with a president election this weekend, what I do know is that there is a president (Museveni) who has been in power for more than 25 years. Regardless if he would be a perfectly charming and benevolent president, 25 years qualifies as too long and a matter of suspicion for this citizen journalist. After having eliminated limits on how many terms a president can serve, the Ugandan leader has earned similar criticism and concern in his home country and among the international community.
In the lead up to this election, my sources on the ground have warned of fraud. They’re concerned with how easily it could happen, especially if the government can manipulate final vote counts. There is a need for eyes on the ground, for reporting, and observing. It seems anyone involved it trying to do so is going to have a major challenge on their hands. This challenge deserves the same kind of support we’ve seen pouring out over the past few weeks for Tunisia and Egypt.
One place I will be looking throughout this process, besides the various voices on twitter, is on the UgandaWatch site. UW is an Ushahidi report-mapping system where Ugandans can submit, via sms or web, reports about what they are seeing wherever they are in the country. This will help, though it doesn’t tell the complete story, to understand what is really going on compared to whatever the office of the president may tell us.
Let’s hope it is a good weekend for voters, journalists and election observers in Uganda.