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Monitoring 2011 Uganda Presidential Elections: Deploying USHAHIDI.

Uganda provides national elections for the president who is elected for a 5 year term.

Overview of the Previous Elections in Uganda:

The first national election in Uganda was the Uganda National Assembly elections of 1962. An alliance between the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) and Kabaka Yekka (KY) won the majority of parliamentary seats, and formed Uganda's first post-independance government with with Obote as executive Prime Minister [1]

A period of dictatorship and political strife, including the tenure of Idi Amin, meant no elections were held until the presidential election of December 1980. Obote was pronounced the winner amid bitter dispute and allegations of electoral fraud. Yoweri Museveni, one of the presidential aspirants, declared an armed rebellion, and waged a guerrilla war (theUgandan Bush War) against the government of Obote. Museveni's National Resistance Army (NRA) took power in 1985, making him President.

Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) created a form of "no-party democracy", banning political parties from fielding candidates directly in elections. [2] In the "no-party" presidential election in 1996, Museveni defeated Paul Ssemogerere and Mohamed Mayanja by a landslide. Although international and domestic observers described the vote as valid, both the losing candidates rejected the results. [2] In the following presidential election, held in 2001, Museveni won by a substantial majority, with Kizza Besigye as the only real challenger. Despite a protest against the results, citing massive voter intimidation and rigging, the outcome was accepted by the Supreme Court of Uganda.

In the 2005 constitutional referendum, Ugandans voted to restore a multi-party political system, lifting the 19-year restriction on the activities of political parties. The The Ugandan general election of 2006 were the first multiparty election in 25 years. Museveni won 59% of the presidential vote, and his party, the National Resistance Movement, won the majority of parliamentary seats.

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To many Ugandans, especially in the opposition, the past Uganda Presidential elections have been referred to as unfree and unfair!
Even the efforts made by international election observers have not counted much to the eyes of the locals because more often than not, these observers do not avail their reports for the wider communities in Uganda to a****s the election in reference to what happened in their areas during the elections.
At the same time, the international observers have missed a lot of data in their observations.

The up coming "2011 presidential elections" have raised a lot of "suspicion" and fear that there is likely to be violence should there be any sort of vote ridging or what has been previously referred to as "unfair practices" Apart from that, the voters are not confident that the history of unfair elections will not repeat itself.

For the above reason I believe that involving the local communities in watching, observing, gathering information and reporting all sorts of events that take place at polling stations in their communities on real time.

How do we achieve that?
I have identified a very powerful tool - Ushahidi and yet easy to use and because its open source, anyone can improve it in the best way that fits.Ushahidi also enables people to get access to critical information at anytime! Ushahidi has already been used to monitor elections and I believe it would be a great tool to use in Uganda as well.

What we will need to make it work in 2011!
Because we are basing on the communities to gather information and report it using their cellphone, computers and smart devices, training will be very essential. The communities will be volunteers of peace!
This means that we train all Ugandans on how to submit their information. We shall train as many people as we can including students (the youth).
A small group of representatives per district will be given more advanced training on how to filter the content before its sent to the major data centre where further filtering and aggregating will be made.

There will also be need of equipment, we shall need access to internet and computers [laptops]. It would be nice if the volunteers can provide their personal computers to work on if they have. Otherwise we will need to improvise. We shall need three types of volunteers; highly skilled volunteers (data analysts and information technology personnel), semi skilled volunteers (the youth and students to filter and translate information/ data to English and local languages as used in Uganda) and general volunteers (wider communities).

We shall also need Ushahidi to work closely with our volunteers - help provide technical support as required for example to monitor the servers and any other kinds of technical faults on the system.

Because SMS is quite expensive for the local people, would be nice if we can have a Toll Free SMS line for people to submit the information and data.

Information to Collect:
Basically what we would like to cover during this period is all sorts of comments that people may have/ wish to share with the world.
This includes but not limited to: Real time reports on events taking place at the polling stations, result, complaints, complements and comments made by the voters, presidential candidates and authorities.

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