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EU, US envoys urge gov’t to unfreeze CSO bank accounts

Ambassador Attilio Pacifici.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The European Union has asked the government to expedite investigations into the operations of Civil Society Organizations whose accounts were frozen amidst accusations of money laundering and funding subversive activities.

The NGOs which include the National NGO Forum and Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), had their accounts frozen by the government in December 2020. The two depend on funding from development partners to implement their activities.

Early this week, the Executive Director of NGO Forum Moses Isooba said that their activities had been affected by lack of funds and expressed worry that they might not be able to observe elections if the government doesn’t free their accounts.

Now the Head of the European Union Delegation to Uganda Ambassador Attilio Pacifici has asked the responsible government agencies to investigate and review swiftly, the allegations against the organizations and unfreeze their bank accounts as appropriate.

In a statement issued Saturday, the ambassador upholds the role of civil society organizations in fostering an inclusive, transparent, credible and peaceful electoral process, as well as promoting human rights, good governance and fighting corruption.

“It is in this context, the EU and its member states are very concerned that the bank accounts of several reputable and well-known civil society partners have been frozen on allegations of financing terrorism,” Pacifici said.

In a separate statement, the U.S Ambassador to Uganda Natalie E. Brown said that they are troubled by the signs of closing political space, including the blocking of bank accounts of Ugandan Civil Society Organizations working for the benefit of the Ugandan people.

“The continued blocking of these accounts has significantly limited the ability of these CSOs to contribute to the conduct of free, fair, and peaceful elections in Uganda, a goal that the United States shares with the Ugandan people,” she wrote.

She added that restrictions on Civil Society Organizations delayed accreditation of domestic observers by the Electoral Commission, and interference with non-partisan voter-education programming, raising serious concerns about Uganda’s preparedness for a transparent, inclusive election.



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