Election observers from Uganda and Guyana will be monitoring voting in one of the most multicultural constituencies in the UK, which is known for having played host to a series of huge electoral fraud scandals.The delegation of foreign MPs and politicians is being sent to check for foul play in the Birmingham constituency of Ladywood by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK (CPA), the Birmingham Post reports.
The seat returned a massive Labour majority in 2015, but observers found activists illegally campaigning inside polling stations. Couples and extended families were also found to be going into voting booths together in apparent effort to influence voters.
In 2005, five Labour councillors in Aston and Bordesley Green – areas of Ladywood – were banned from standing and a by-election was triggered following allegations of massive voting fraud, death threats, intimidation, and bribery in the 2004 elections.
Three candidates – Mohammed Islam, Muhammed Afzal, and Mohammed Kazi – were found to have run a “vote-rigging factory” in a disused factory where fraudulently acquiring postal voting slips were processed.
Upholding allegations of vote rigging, Election Commissioner Richard Mawrey QC concluded there had been “massive, systematic and organised fraud” that would “disgrace a banana republic”.
Uganda herself has a poor record for upholding democratic processes, with the president recently extending his 30-year reign after allegedly keeping his opponent under house arrest during an election.
Parliamentary Association UK chief executive, Andrew Tuggey, said: “This is a vital element of CPA UK’s commitment to enhance openness and transparency in parliamentary democracy across the Commonwealth.
“Assessing elections upholds the core values of the Commonwealth. I warmly welcome parliamentarians and election officials from across the Commonwealth and thank them for their commitment.
“Their assessments will add value to the UK’s electoral processes, and I know they will find the Mission extremely interesting and worthwhile.”
A total of eight UK constituencies are to be monitored by the CPA this year, with a delegation from Jamaica, Australia, Kenya, and Tonga heading to East Devon and one from Sierra Leone, the Seychelles, and Antigua and Barbuda going to Darlington.