The Electoral Commission (EC) has suspended ‘until further” notice, the services of Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), a civil society organization that advocates for transparency and active citizen participation in Uganda’s electoral process.
In a letter from the EC chairperson, Simon Byabakama to the CCEDU coordinator, Crispin Kaheru, the commission accuses CCEDU of being partisan and acting outside the election observation guidelines.
Byabakama argues that a meeting between the commission and CCEDU had highlighted these issues on July 2, 2018, and CCEDU promised to address them by reviewing their work methods while in field and with the press but instead acted otherwise.
“On the morning of 4th July, a senior CCEDU communication official, who was also in the meeting with the commission; Ms Charity Ahimbisibwe, while on NBS TV’s morning breeze- Topical Discussion segment, castigated the countrywide village women council/ committee elections that took place 3, July, 2018 as a sham. This was contrary to the big turn up registered countrywide and the public interest and yearning to have these council/committee elections conducted after such a long time,” Byabakama argues
Adding that: “CCEDU has among others, proven that it does not adhere to legal framework and guidelines of the Electoral Commission and thus, we are skeptical that it is position to comply with objective voter education geared at promoting a process it does not believe.”
Byabakama says that the commission and the country at large needs credible, honest and impartial partners to asses the electoral process and make pertinent recommendations.
“It is therefore upon this background that the Electoral Commission has suspended its relationship with CCEDU until further notice,” the statement continues.
However, CCEDU’s Crispin Kaheru says they are aware of the suspension of accreditation by the EC not to observe these and future elections – as well as to conduct voter education.
“We consider this to be a difference in work methods. Whereas CCEDU believes in exposing good practices and shortcomings to ensure a free and fair election, the EC believes that CCEDU should merely document and share findings. This is a matter we strongly believe can be resolved through dialogue,” he said.
He also added that CCEDU maintains its earlier position that – it is opposed to the method of voting by lining up behind candidates as currently designated by the Local Government Act, and therefore will not observe the LCI elections.
“CCEDU subscribes to the internationally recognized standard of elections by secret ballot; and that is why members of the Coalition petitioned the Constitutional Court, for an appropriate interpretation of the law,” he said.