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EC kicks popular NGO CCEDU out of LC polls

CCEDU coordinator, Crispin Kaheeru and election observers share insights with former FDC party president Kizza Besigye during the just concluded Rukungiri Woman MP by-elections. The EC has suspended activities of the popular election monitors citing impartiality (PML Daily PHOTO)

KAMPALA – The Independent Electoral Commission has pulled a plug on the activities of Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy (CEDDU) on grounds that the body has continued to flout all election observers’ guidelines.

In a 4th July 2018 letter authored by the Electoral Commission boss, Justice Simon Byabakama, he highlighted that despite different warnings and promise to ‘repent of their sins’, CCEDU has kept on defying the guidelines laid out in the Electoral Commission Act.

Byabakama pointed out a meeting held between the Commission and CCEDDU on 2nd July 2018, to consider CCEDU’s application to partner with the Commission in conducting voter education for the ongoing electoral activities where the Civil Society body had applied to be accredited as observers of the said elections.

The Justice said that in the said meeting, the Commission expressed concern about the partisan manner in which CCEDU had been conducting itself in the past election, actions they say contravene provisions in the ECA Cap140 and CCEDU promised to revisit its work methods while in the field and in the press and achieve the Election observation guidelines, for the benefit of all shareholders of the election.

However, barely a day after the meeting, Charity Ahimbisibwe, Communication Officer CCEDU while on NBS TV castigated the country wide village women council elections, something that didn’t go down well with the Commission that prompted Byabakama to put an end to CCEDU’s defiance.

“This was contrary to the big turn up registered countrywide and public interest and yearning to have these councils/committee elections conducted after such a long time,” Byabakama’s letter read in part.

He added without bringing to light the incidences of the many times, CCEDU has acted outside the election observer guidelines as set by the Electoral Commission, arguing that CCEDU’s actions undermine objectivity and commitment in adhering to the laid down standard of engagement as far as election related activities is concerned.

He castigated CCEDU for failing to fulfill the desires of Ugandans whose majority need credible, honest and impartial partners to assess the electoral process and make pertinent recommendations.

He added: “It is therefore upon this background that the Electoral Commission has suspended its relationship with CCEDU until further notice.”
However, it wasn’t long before CCEDU Secretariat fired back at Kaheru’s suspension letter terming it as a waste of time as the Civil Society body wasn’t interested in observing the sham Local Council elections.

The letter read: “As Ugandans go to the LC1 polls tomorrow, 10th July 2018, the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda wishes to re-affirm 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 LC1 elections.”

CCEDU premised its decision from the controversial Local Council elections on grounds that the institution subscribes to the internationally recognized standard of public elections by secret ballot saying it was part of the reason members of the Coalition petitioned the Constitutional Court, for an appropriated interpretation of the law.

CCEDU confirmed the suspension but rejected the arguments fronted by Byabakama saying the two warring sides have instead failed to agree on working methods.

“We consider the suspension to arise from 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 dialogues,” highlighted the letter from CCEDU Secretariat.

The development comes at a time when the European Union, through the French Ambassador Stephanie Rivoal revealed that although the Union was ready to provide funds for the upcoming Local Council elections to held Government conduct secret ballot papers, the Electoral Commission rejected the offer to settle for lining up.

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