International Development Assistance Partners and Electoral Processes in Uganda

Samuel E. Meyer, SIT Study Abroad

Uganda and Rwanda: Post Conflict Transformation


Through this research paper, I intended to analyze how international development partners play a role in the management of elections and electoral reforms in Uganda. By speaking with different parties involved in Uganda’s elections I gained insight into how electoral reforms are viewed and carried out; what, if any development partners are providing technical or financial assistance; and how this assistance is being used to prepare for the national elections in 2011. I also learned how the partners are implementing their assistance whether it is technical or financial and with whom they work to accomplish the goal of more developed democracy.

For this research, it was important to gather information from a variety of sources and speak to parties with a wide range of perspectives. I conducted six formal interviews and several other discussions with individuals who have varying degrees of involvement in instituting electoral reforms in Uganda. These included both government and opposition politicians, the Ugandan Electoral Commission, representatives of international development partners and civil society organizations. These were chosen as the key stakeholders in the process of electoral reform and electoral management. The challenges I faced stemmed mostly from scheduling interviews and the time allotted for the research.

The international development partners clearly focus on more free and fair elections in 2011, but their goals also extend beyond elections to the broader scope of democracy. The development partners work primarily with the groups and structures such as the political parties, the Electoral Commission and civil society to promote democratic elections. Their efforts focus mildly on electoral reform, with some sponsoring and support for electoral reform legislation written by both the opposition and the ruling party government. There is little if any detectable direct influence upon government to improve electoral laws, outside of election reports published in the wake of the previous election.