The conditions for a truly free and fair election in Uganda on February 23 are lacking. The playing field cannot be level as long as the intimidation noted continues and opposition politicians have been diverted from campaigning to battle politically motivated charges in the courts. State and private media coverage is hampered, the election laws are selectively applied, and the continued independence of the judiciary is vulnerable to military interference. Judicial independence could be put to the ultimate test in the event of a challenge to the presidential election results.
The Electoral Commission has done a good job in difficult circumstances, but the shortfall in the number of police and the inaccuracies in the register threaten to undo much of its hard work. In the remaining time to election day, the playing field cannot be completely leveled, but the government could improve the situation and alleviate the culture of fear that surrounds these elections by following the recommendations outlined above.