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Bobi Wine effect: Panicky EC set tough conditions leaving many shocked

Electoral Commission has warned observers against reporting live events during elections, URN reports.

Following the release of the 2021 election road map, several Non-Government Organizations have embarked on preparation for the polls as observers.

According Electoral Commission guidelines, the role of election observers is to study the various aspects of the elections, come up with fair judgment and make recommendations to the Commission.

But Nathaline Etomaru, the Commissioner in Charge of Central North and Midwest Regions, says some observers divert from their mandate and turn into news reporters by relaying events as they occur in the elections.

Etomaru says this wrong because the observers relay news reports without verifying them. She says EC intends to organize a workshop to remind the observers their code of conduct and guidelines, saying those who behave to the contrary will be dealt with.

John Ssegujja the Executive Director Community Development and Child Welfare Initiative and an election observer, admits that some observers indeed divert from their mandate and engage in news reporting. Ssegujja says that if an observer identifies an anomaly she/ he can notify Electoral Commission to rectify it but not going to radio stations to discredit the process.

Last year, Electoral Commission suspended the Citizens Coalition of Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) from observing elections in the country. CCEDU always operated through social media by publishing electoral processes and malpractices through its social media platforms.

They were also source of information for various media houses that relied on their live reports. The Electoral Commission chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama accused CCEDU of being partisan and acting outside the election observance guideline as set by the Electoral Commission.

Crispy Kaheru, the national coordinator CCEDU, said that 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.

However, the matter was resolved through dialogue prompting EC to lift the ban on CCEDU. According to Section 16(1) of the Electoral Commission Act, CAP 140, the Commission may at any election accredit any individual, group or institution to act as election observers.

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By Odongo Christopher

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