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EC rallies Online Media as electoral body gears up for the 2021 polls

Mr. Rwakoojo addresses Online Media Editors at Hotel Africana on Tuesday (PHOTO COURTESY OF TWITTER)

KAMPALA – The Electoral Commission has appealed to the Online Media publishers to support electoral road map for the 2021 elections to help in delivering a free and fair electoral process.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting between the Online Editors and the Electoral Commission at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Tuesday morning, EC Secretary Mr. Sam Rwakoojo said with technology shaping the environment around us, Online Media publishers now have a big role to play in shaping up society.

“You have alot of power in your hands,” he said.

“But I am hereby requesting you to use that power carefully and responsibly,” Mr. Rwakoojo said.

Turning to the roadmap for the 2021 elections, Mr Rwakojo said the EC consider it very crucial for media practitioners to have deeper understanding of the roadmap and the processes involved, in order to easily disseminate information.

“However, the conduct of the media as a whole but online media in particular on how it covers the elections and the role the media will play in keeping the Country united during and after elections will be equally scrutinised – hence the importance of this meeting, to prepare ourselves and learn from one another on how to deliver credible service to the electorate,” he said.

Uganda is preparing for the 2021 Presidential and General Elections with the EC in advanced stages of preparations for the polls.

EC spokesman Mr. Jotham Taremwa said the Commission appreciates the work done by the Online Media publishers so far in covering the electoral roadmap which is important for the process of delivering a free and fair election.

The Online Media Publishers Association President Mr. Giles Muhame said with the audiences heavily moving online, it was time for the EC to engage the Online Media in all ways including advertising spend.

According to tge EC roadmap, the 2021 general election is expected to cost Uganda UGX. 868 billion from about UGX. 500 billion in the previous 2016 election.

The roadmap launched by the Prime Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda in December 2018 was in line with the legal mandate of the Commission under Articles 60 and 61 of the Constitution to among others ensure that regular, free and fair elections and referenda are held.

Mr. Giles Muhame, the OMPA President speaks during the meeting(PHOTO COURTESY OF TWITTER)

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Below is Mr. Rwakoojo’s Full Statement:

REMARKS BY THE SECRETARY ELECTORAL COMMISSION DURING THE BREAKFAST MEETING WITH THE ONLINE MEDIA, HOTEL AFRICANA, MARCH 12, 2019

On behalf of the Uganda Electoral Commission, I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for accepting our invite to attend this breakfast meeting. While you have always come to our boardroom and in the field for briefings on our electoral programs, I felt that there was a need to meet outside our boardroom on a cup of tea like this one so that we can have a conversation on our electoral process and how we can work together to enhance democracy, good governance, stability and prosperity in our Country. The purpose of this breakfast meeting is to acknowledge the invaluable contribution you have made as online media specifically and the media industry in general, towards the democratisation process in this Country as our key partners through coverage of our electoral activities/programs.

I wish to thank you particularly for the coverage of the launch of the strategic plan and Roadmap for the 2020/2021 General Elections on 11th December 2018.

This morning’s interface, therefore, underscores our deep awareness, consideration and appreciation of the media as our stakeholder in the electoral process.

One of the strategies that the Commission has employed to mobilize stakeholder support for the Roadmap activities is regular engagement with various stakeholders in the electoral process. Among these are scheduled training workshops at National and Regional levels for the media personnel so as to equip them with knowledge of the electoral process to enable improvement in the area of election reporting.

It’s, therefore, necessary to have this engagement to ensure that the entire media structure is sensitised. Iam convinced that this interaction will provide an opportunity for us to interact and exchange ideas about our expectations as stakeholders.

As already mentioned, the Electoral Commission launched the Roadmap for the 2020/2021 General Elections on 11th December 2018, and thereafter the Commission embarked on the implementation of the same.

The general public, and particularly the electorate, will be following all the electoral activities through the media. We, therefore, consider it very crucial for media practitioners to have deeper understanding of the roadmap and the processes involved, in order to ease your information and education functions.

I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for occasionally providing coverage (public education) to the Commission. Indeed you have been our key partners in this.

The Commission is mindful of the varied expectations of the electorate and other stakeholders, concerning the upcoming elections, particularly the conduct of credible, free and fair elections. The Commission is indeed committed to deliver on its crucial mandate.

However, the conduct of the media as a whole but online media in particular on how it covers the elections and the role the media will play in keeping the Country united during and after elections will be equally scrutinised – hence the importance of this meeting, to prepare ourselves and learn from one another on how to deliver credible service to the electorate.

As a country which is at the point of making critical decisions concerning its leadership, we count on you to promote awareness among the national and international community, about the readiness of Ugandans for a smooth electoral exercise.

As the election management body, we assure you as stakeholders, of our commitment to peaceful fraud-free elections. The Commission has built and continues to build capacity at all levels, to meet the legal, technological, logistical and administrative challenges which often come with polling day and post polling processes. We count on you to project Uganda in a positive way, that is, as a people who are committed to peaceful electoral process

As we embark on our electoral journey, I urge you to pay attention to the following:

1. Promote balanced and objective coverage of the roadmap;

2. The media can often unintentionally (or intentionally) incite violence through unbalanced, inaccurate or inflammatory reporting. We therefore, urge you to exercise the highest level of professionalism during our electoral journey to the 2020/2021 general elections;

3. The Commission is committed to media safety, and will be developing guidelines aimed at enhancing media safety during the electoral process. This includes briefing all stakeholders in the electoral process on media rights as well as their responsibilities, presence, security

4 In partnership with the Media Council, the regulatory authority and yourselves, the Commission will develop guidelines for media personnel, to enhance awareness among practitioners on their rights, roles and duties during the electoral process.

In conclusion, a peaceful electoral process is a product of the effort of all stakeholders; the Commission acknowledges and appreciates you for supporting the electoral process to-date. Your invaluable contribution has enabled us to successfully organize, conduct and conclude previous elections and by-elections on schedule.

We look forward to an enriching engagement that will result in a stronger partnership, for the good of electoral democracy in our country, aimed at promoting a stable united prosperous Uganda.

For God and my country,

Sam A. Rwakoojo

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