Election 2016

EC: Why We Stopped Topowa Campaign

[L-R] EC officials Sam Rwakoojo, Eng Badru Kiggundu and Joseph Biribonwa at today's breakfast meeting with Civil Society leaders at Kampala Serena Hotel

The Electoral Commission has spoken out more elaborately on the events that preceded the halting of the controversial ‘Topowa’ voter education messages, shop mind http://construction-cloud.com.au/wp-content/plugins/stripe/views/admin-lite-sidebar.php saying CCEDU top officials including Crispy Kaheru were called for a meeting – an invitation they refused to honor.

“Our official Mashate called Kaheru to come to our offices for a meeting after we received complaints that the messages were partisan, story ” recounted EC Secretary Sam Rwakoojo.

“Kaheru told Mashate that the CCEDU Director was away and that we would have to wait till he returns. So we told him to stop the messages until the boss returned,” he added.

Rwakoojo was speaking at a breakfast meeting with Civil Society (CSOs) leaders at Kampala Serena Hotel on Monday morning.

Earlier, Kaheru who was in attendance had complained that Topowa messages were not calling for ‘change.’ He further said he was “deeply hurt” and “so pained” by EC’s decision to stop the airing of Topowa campaign.

The Topowa adverts urge people to use their votes to change their situations including getting rid of roads full of potholes and hospitals which lack medicine.

Informed sources say NRM supporters expressed to EC their frustration with the messages which they described as partisan by calling upon people to vote for the change of status quo.

Rwakoojo said voter education messages should be coined in a way that does not arouse suspicions of bias.

“Kaheru knows all our addresses and lines. Instead of honoring our meeting or sending a representatives, he opted for social media,” he added.

“If you have to keep explaining your message then there is a problem with interpretation,” added Rwakoojo.

On his part, EC boss Eng Badru Kiggundu urged CSOs to promote citizen participation in election activities to strengthen democratic governance in Uganda.

“It is this particular function that creates a mutual relationship between civil society organisations and the Electoral Commission,” emphasized Kiggundu.

He further pointed out that CSOs are tasked with promoting peaceful campaigns and supporting conflict prevention by ensuring that political differences and debates do not lead to hostility or escalate to conflict levels.

Appreciating CSOs that have continuously advocated for dialogue among various political players, Kiggundu used the opportunity to warn the civil society that they are not “political parties and should therefore not be involved in partisan politics.”

He said CSOs should not develop manifestos at this time before warning that EC will not hesitate to withdraw accreditation for any organization that violates terms of voter education MoUs signed with the electoral body.

“CSOs should provide information that, as far as possible, avoids inflammatory language, helping to prevent election-related violence. I need to emphasize that these CSOs’ specific messages must be approved by the Electoral Commission,” warned Kiggundu.

Backlash

This attracted angry responses from civil society leaders, saying Kiggundu’s remarks tantamount to “reading the riot act.” They further called for strengthening of a mutually beneficial partnership with EC.

Some participants questioned the independence of EC – which the electoral body officials defended strongly.

Kiggundu also revealed that soft copies of the voters’ register are being handed to presidential candidates or their representatives.

The EC boss spoke about the reorganization of polling stations, saying it is intended to enable voters conveniently cast their ballots on the polling day.

He further said the EC has undertaken “technological reforms to improve the delivery of electoral services.” Ugandans will vote for president and other elective leaders in the much anticipated elections in 2016.

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