Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Civil society organization organizations have vowed to defy the recent directive issued by the National NGO bureau halting the activities of National Election Watch Uganda (NEW-U) an election observers loose coalition, which was created by several CSOs, NGOs and individuals ahead of the 2021 general elections.
Addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala on October 29, 2020, the bureau’s senior communications officer, Patrick Onen Ezaga said they learnt NEW-U from its two press statements released on September 6th and 15th and its launch on September 10th, 2020, it was operating illegally.
The CSOs under the NEW-U coalition have addressed a press briefing at the Center for Constitutional Governance -CCG offices in Ntinda and said the NGO bureau has no legal mandate to regulate or make decisions in matters of election observation.
Damiano Musesa the NEW-U coalition strategist and team leader read the coalition’s statement to the media and said that it is only the electoral commission mandated with accrediting organizations or individuals both National and international to observe and watch election processes in the country.
He added that with the covid-19 pandemic and its impact on constitutional democracy, international election observers will not be able to physically observe Uganda’s 2021 elections and so the NGO bureau needs not to intervene with the EC mandate of providing space for local observers to do their work.
Sarah Bireete, the CCG executive director said that the NGO Bureau’s directives violate Articles 29, 38, 59 and 17 of the constitution which stipulate that citizens have a right and a duty to participate in governance at all levels either individually or through associations, civic organizations or political parties.
She claimed that besides the real covid-19 pandemic, the bureau and other government institutions have become another huge pandemic on Ugandans as they engage in illegal acts intended to cover space for freedom of assembly and association.
Bireete also emphasized that Uganda is run by laws, and so entities like NGO bureau, UCC, and Uganda Police should stop issuing directives and think of implementing them as laws yet they are against the constitution.