Electoral Commission warns CSOs against campaigning for candidates

EC and CSOs officials
EC and CSOs officials at the launch of voter education campaign. Courtesy Photo

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Electoral Commission [EC] has warned Civil Society Organizations [CSOs] against campaigning for people seeking political offices.

The EC’s acting secretary, Leonard Mulekwa made the warning on Thursday 11, December 2020 at the launch of voter education campaign organised by Uganda Project Implementation and Management Centre [UPMAC] and Civic Education Coalition of Uganda [CECU]. The voter education campaign will be conducted by EC in collaboration with 18 CSOs.

Mulekwa said sometimes CSOs cross the line of public sensitization and align themselves to particular political camps or side with individual candidates.

However, Mulekwa said EC shall not hesitate to cancel partnership with any CSO which will deviate from voter education or election observation to a political campaign.

“As a commission, we have worked with CECU and we know the material going to be distributed has been developed with our guidance. I only pray that people going out there do not lose track,” Mulekwa said.

EC said several political candidates do not mind about the safety of voters and it is time CSOs intervened by sensitizing the public on dangers of Covid-19 and also emphasized on why they need to protect their lives from Covid-19. Mulekwa said there is need to separate right to gathering and responsibility to protect life.

“Health is a personal responsibility. People are saying it is our right to gather. But when the pandemic hits, the blame will be on the government. Citizens need to be reminded of their responsibility. Rights are not absolute. You can’t enjoy rights at the expense of your life or lives of others,” Mulekwa added.

Peter Bogere, CECU coordinator said during their sample study, they realized that only 23 per cent of voters know the electoral process and the same percentage can understand and implement contents of Uganda Constitution.

Bogere added that during the voter education campaign which they will conduct in 42 districts, they hope to reach out to at least 6 million voters. The voter sensitization message according to Bogere will be packaged in form of posters.

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“We are going to print 822,000 voter education posters in 18 languages, 50,000 flyers also in 18 languages and 3,000 t-shirts for field voter educators. We shall also use radio talk shows in areas we are targeting to reach,” Bogere said.

Bogere added that they will also send 10 million bulk messages reminding voters about the importance of participating in elections and polling days. Other things UPIMAC and CECU hope to do is to sensitize voters through drama skits in various languages.