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Opposition groups have seen their rallies censored by the Ugandan security forces.
European Union (EU) High Representative for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell on Tuesday said that the "excessive" use of force by security agencies is "seriously" tarnishing Thursday's elections in Uganda.
Over 17.6 million Ugandans are called to the polls in an election that culminates a presidential campaign marked by police repression. On this occasion, the electoral contest is between President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, and ten other candidates, including the popular musician Bobi Wine.
The EU hopes for "transparent, inclusive and credible" elections, as well as "a level playing field that allows all Ugandans to exercise their democratic rights... without fear of intimidation or violence," Borrell said.
"The crucial work of human rights defenders, journalists, and social organizations must be supported to ensure accountability and transparency.
Since US observers will not be present at these elections, Borrell stressed that "the role of local observers will be even more important than before".
Since November, opposition groups have seen their rallies censored by the Ugandan Defense Forces and Police, which have been responsible for mass arrests, road closures, the use of tear gas, and the use of live ammunition against protesters.
At least 54 people were killed in mid-November in the vicinity of Kampala when police shot down protests against the arrest of Wine, whom authorities blamed for failing to comply with restrictions to contain the pandemic.