As a coalition of citizens, CCEDU is formed to advocate for the value of integrity in the Ugandan electoral process by promoting a social and political system that enhances fair, equitable and transparent electoral processes. The need for this coalition is managed in Uganda prior, during and after each election, whether local or national. The Citizens ‘ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda therefore aims at widely mobilizing citizens to , among other things, promote electoral reforms CSOs consider crucial in the wider democratization process, CCEDU will locate its work agenda within the context of the wider social, economic and political agenda to achieve democracy and good governance in Uganda.
Recognizing the significant efforts already undertaken across the country, CCEDU aims not to replace or duplicate these initiatives, but rather to complement them and create a meeting place for various organizations united in the quest for greater integrity in the electoral process in Uganda. These organizations focus on a variety of constituencies, including women, youth, religions groups, political parties and the wider public. To carry out their objectives, these initiatives include capacity building through training, exposure visits, information sharing and networking, as well as policy analysis, lobbying, and advocacy with different electoral institutions. By building a mandate from the identified gaps in electoral democracy initiatives,
CCEDU will be informed by and or add value to ongoing efforts in Uganda and in other countries, some of which are summarized below.
a) Policy Research, analysis and Documentation
The foundation for Human Rights Initiative and the Human rights Network have carried out a number of comprehensive reviews on the past electoral processes of Uganda with specific reference to the 2001 and 2006 elections and recently undertook a detailed analysis and audit of various electoral related laws as a basis for making electoral reforms proposals. The work by HURINET focuses on the 2011 elections and includes an analysis of the Constitution, the Local Government Act, the Police Act, the Presidential and Parliamentary Act and the Elections Commission Act, among others and makes key recommendations on electoral reforms that could greatly inform CCEDU’s agenda. The researcher carried out by FHRI further draws on successful regional and international electoral models to serve as a learning point for Uganda in2011 and beyond. A number of recommendations have been made for reference by various groups advocating for reforms and integrity in the electoral processes ahead of 2011 and beyond. A number of recommendations have been made for reference by various groups advocating for reforms and integrity in the elector processes ahead of 2011 and beyond. ACODE on the other hand promotes political party dialogues and has carried out analysis of electoral democracy in Uganda with legal and political recommendations. MS Uganda has carried out a detailed document of the democratic and accountability environment in Uganda and produced several posters and handbooks for citizen’s education and effective citizen engagement in electoral processes at all levels. MS recently launched an innovative programme aimed at promoting civic education through a ‘mobile van’ also aimed at promoting citizen participation in enhancing local democracy.
b) Support to Women’s Participation in Democracy
The role of women in the election and democratization process has been championed by a number of civic organizations and key among these are Forum for women in Democracy, Uganda Women’s Network and Action for Women in Development all of which work to support the Role of women in democracy, both as candidates and as participants. In this vein, several activities are aimed at increasing the number, visibility and impact of women in policy making at parliamentary, local government and public service levels. Women are equipped with skills to campaign for electoral positions at parliamentary and local government levels and to lobby and effectively participate in legislative processes at all levels. Emphasizes is put on capacity building and exposure of various women in political positions to lobby and influence policy structures.
c) Strengthening the Basis for Citizen Agency and Political Accountability in Uganda
Building on prior work by civil society around the Minimum Agenda and Political Manifesto assessments in 2006, the Uganda Governance monitoring platform UGMP)3 aims to strengthen the basis for political accountability, commitment and responsiveness by leaders and the political system towards the expressed citizen’s demand. UGMP aims to deepen the disclosure on ‘holding government accountable’ by developing a ‘citizens manifesto’ which will act as a form of ‘social contract’ that binds people in political authority with citizens. These efforts are aimed at defeating the existing apathy among citizens that makes them passive recipients of what has turned out to be ‘development favours’ from the state or political leaders. Through the citizen manifesto initiative, UGMP hopes to reverse this, as well as articulate a bottom-up and value based aspirations to engender political responsiveness and sustained conversations between elected leaders and the electorate.
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d) Media and entertainment in promoting democracy.
The media has been one of the most effective tools of communication before,during and after any election. The local electronic and print media houses have largely carried out a commendable role in promoting civic education and shaping citizens' level of participation during the election periods. Organizations like the Public Affairs Centre PAC located in Teso region,Kabarole research Centre in the Rwenzori,Koboko Anti Corruption Coalition in West Nile,Gulu NGO Forum in the North and Apac Link Forum,among others have further developed innovative partnerships with the media and have negotiated free airtime for holding radio talk shows for promoting democratic principles and practices.
Further to this is the role of Music,Dance and drama effectively utilized by several civic groups like International Theatre movement IATM,URDT in Kibale district,Teso Anti Corruption Coalition and Kakuuto Development Network of indigenous Voluntary Associations in Rakai district to promote democracy and citizen consciousness.
e) Electoral Reform Efforts.
Several organizations have been active in developing electoral reform agendas and demanding for systematic electoral reform in Uganda. For instance the Inter-party Cooperation (IPC),comprising four Ugandan opposition political parties-the conservative party (CP),Forum for democratic change (FDC),Justice Forum JEEMA and Uganda Peoples Congress(UPC) have recently developed a joint agenda for electoral reform. As part of their campaign work for electoral reform,IPC commissioned a constitutional,legal,administrative and political audit of the electoral process in Uganda. The resulting document was IPC's proposed Electoral Reforms,published in may 2009.As well as contextualizing the current state of affairs in Uganda with international benchmark standards in free and fair elections,IPC also sets out a manifesto for electoral reforms. This publication designates objectives in the fields of voter education,engagement and participation,sponsorship of political parties and the role of security organs in electoral democracy,to name afew.
f) Election Monitoring and Observation
The democracy monitoring group (DEMGroup) is a coalition of civil society organizations comprised of Action for Development (ACFODE),transparency International (TI),and Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC),which have over the years worked together to monitor the performance of various government institutions whose work has a strong bearing on the democratization.DEMGroup has engaged a number of electoral reform issues that include analysis and presentation of positions on bills 2005,the parliamentary Election Bill 2005;and standing committee on Rules,Privileges and discipline of the Parliament of the republic of Uganda. It has informed public discourses about elections and interlinked issues in Uganda.The International Community have also been active in election observation in Uganda.
g) Voter Education by the electoral Commission (EC)
The electoral Commission on its part has been,despite all the challenges it faces,consistent in conducing voter education especially in the period in the run up to various elections in Uganda. They have got support for this from the development partner community.