Uganda

Close to 500 observers to monitor referendum in Uganda

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Kampala (xinhua), Jul 27, 2005 --Close to 500 observers are to monitor tomorrow's referendum on the change of political system in Uganda.
The Electoral Commission (EC) spokesman, Okello Jabwelli told Xinhua by telephone yesterday that that the commission had so far registered 450 election observers. He noted that 130 of them are foreigners.

Jabwelli said the EC briefed the observers yesterday morning about tomorrow's referendum.

He said that the EC had opened up a desk at Hotel African in Kampala to receive the observers.

The country's major donors who were critical of the referendum exercise have also registered teams of observers. The British observer team is composed of three people. Britain has been critical of the Ugandan government, saying that it has not handled the country's political transition well. This cost Uganda about 17 billion shillings (9.7 million US million dollars) in aid from the British government.

Ireland which also accused Uganda of not handling the transition process well, has registered three observers. Ireland withheld aid to Uganda worth about 5 billion shillings (2.86 million dollars).

The United States has registered the biggest observer team with 35 officials. The other states that have sent observers include, India, Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Africa.

Some of the international observers are based in the country, assigned locally by their embassies in Kampala.

According to Jabwelli, everything is set for tomorrow's referendum. He noted that that voter materials have been dispatched to the districts.

Tomorrow, Ugandans will decide whether they should retain the movement system or go for a multiparty system which has been in abeyance for close to 20 years.