This article was originally published in the New Vision newspaper.
By Jeff Andrew Lule
Several Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have jointly formed a Citizen Election Observers Network Uganda (CEON-U), in efforts to ensure free and fair elections ahead of the 2016 general elections.
The network is a consortium of 15 CSOs including; Uganda NGO Forum, Human Rights Network Uganda, African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME), and CEWIT Uganda.
Also part of this group is Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) and Women’s Democracy Network Uganda Chapter, among others.
Dr. Livingstone Ssewanyana, the executive director of Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, also doubling as the steering committee chairperson for the network, explained that it is a domestic observation network aimed at ensuring that the election process is transparent.
“This network is a timely wave of fresh air into Uganda’s democratic process,” he said.
“Free and fair election is everybody’s responsibility. We urge all Ugandans to be part of the wider network to make sure the [election] process is not flawed by malpractices and violence.”
Ssewanyana added that all Ugandans need to report to observers and other responsible authorities like the Electoral Commission and the police in case of any activities that are likely to affect the process.
Meanwhile, Dr. Martin Mwondha, who is the coordinator of CEON-Uganda, said the network believes in making changes to the electoral process.
“Every small improvement makes a big difference. We want to start monitoring the entire process before, during and after the entire process,” he underlined.
Mwondha observed that in the past, there has hardly been much attention paid to what happens before and during the election process.
The network also aims at addressing concerns such as the effective participation of women and persons with disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral process, voter registration and education, media monitoring, security and human rights defenders, campaign financing and election administration countrywide.