ARUA. Civil society organizations (CSO’s) in the country have condemned what they term as the absence of meaningful electoral reforms that they say makes citizens’ participation in elections meaningless.
The CSO’s have also faulted the government and the working group of seven (WG7) organizations for going mute after signing a joint communique to accelerate the convening of the Uganda national dialogue (UND) process.
The goal of the UND process was to agree on a new national consensus to consolidate peace, democracy, and inclusive development and achieve equal opportunity for all.
The WG7 organizations included the inter-religious council of Uganda, the elders' forum of Uganda, the interparty organization for democracy, citizen’s coalition for electoral democracy, women situation room, national consultative forum, and Uganda women’s network.
“The president never gave accountability for the Uganda National dialogue process in his new year speech. And to our knowledge, the interreligious council of Uganda and other organizations that constitute WG7 remain mute”, Mr Moses Akuma, the executive director of West Nile youth network said.
“As we embark on our 12months journey of 2020, we urge the president, the government and the interreligious council to step forward and offer leadership in this process as a matter of priority”, Akuma added.
The government of Uganda and the WG7 officially committed to mobilising funds on December 18th, 2018 during the signing of the communique and convene the process within a period of six months. But the CSO’s are dismayed that no tangible progress has since been made more than a year after this commitment.
Akuma and his counterparts from the civil society colleagues were speaking during a press briefing at Arua social centre on Tuesday.
Mr Harry Ekimia from Arua district NGO network (ADINGON) said there was a likelihood of a mixture of rushed legislative actions, executive posturing, and blame games on who is responsible for legislative inaction.
This is because “the constitutional and electoral reforms necessary to secure a conducive democratic environment for citizens had not yet been enacted” despite the next general elections being only a year away.
Court had ordered a number of reforms in the electoral process during the ruling on the petition filed by former presidential aspirant Mr John Patrick Amama Mbabazi.
Despite the setbacks, the CSO’s have appealed to the citizenry to come all out and fully participate in the electoral process leading to 2021.
“Every society is as good as the quality of its leadership, the state of our families, churches, schools, and communities and our country can only be a reflection of the quality and character of our leaders”, Mr John Daniel Andruga, the executive director of West Nile card said.
“We should use elections as an opportunity to replace bad, corrupt and ineffective leaders with good, decent and transformative leaders”, he further stated.
However, Mr Sunday Asau, the chief executive officer for Vision For Humanity warned that failure to exercise this voting right in 2021 by the citizenry will give leeway to some of the leaders who are never accountable to the electorate.
He discouraged the electorate from only interesting themselves in the election of bigger positions like president, Members of parliament saying all leaders up to the grassroots are important.