I have been following closely developments in the elections in Uganda and have been receiving regular reports from our Embassy in Kampala. The election was monitored by observers from South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, the Gambia and Libya, as well as by personnel from foreign embassies, including our own and those of EU member states. In addition, an NGO umbrella group, Nemgroup, deployed 17,000 monitors throughout Uganda and these were present at most polling stations.
The assessment made by our Embassy and by this wide range of observers is that the election was imperfect but essentially fair. The observers acknowledged that there were malpractices, some of them serious, in a number of districts, mainly by supporters of President Museveni. However, these were deemed sufficiently restricted not to have altered the overall outcome. The Nemgroup, in a preliminary assessment, described these incidents as random and judged the elections to have been carried out generally in accordance with the law.
The Deputy will appreciate that governance in poorer countries is itself a developmental issue and that, in the context of the chaos from which Uganda has emerged in a little over 15 years and the instability in the region, this generally open election between two strong contestants can be seen as a significant and positive step in the evolution of functioning democracy.
Ireland is a strong supporter of Uganda and is committed to assist with its economic, and social development through a strong aid programme through which we will spend £19 million in 2001 on health, including HIV-AIDS, education, water and sanitation, roads, the productive sector and governance. The budget will be expended in accordance with a three-year country strategy negotiated with the Ugandan authorities, which is based on an agreed assessment of needs.