Electoral Commission chairman Justice Simon Byabakama says participating in elections is a way of being involved in the political affairs of the country, and that doing so "reflects a high sense of citizen responsibility".
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY
KAMPALA - Uganda has joined the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day of Democracy, with a call to the people to "remember that democracy flourishes when people feel represented".
The day is marked every September 15 and this year's edition is themed Participation.
With Uganda's 2021 general elections in sight, the youth have been urged to "actively and peacefully lead and participate in ongoing and upcoming activities that have a bearing" on the forthcoming polls.
"Meaningful democracy is built around the hallmarks of active citizen engagement, inclusion and equal treatment," says Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), a body that observes elections.
Calling on Ugandans to "strongly reflect on this year's theme of participation, CCEDU says young people should be "active and meaningful players" in the political processes.
"At the next general election, Uganda will have a significantly youthful population. About 72% of the voters will be aged between 18 and 40 years. We therefore would like to use the opportunity of this year's Democracy Day to call upon government, non-government and inter-governmental entities to ensure that young people are at the heart of Uganda's political processes as unhampered, active and meaningful players," says Crisipin Kaheru, CCEDU's co-ordinator, in a statement.
"We call on young people to actively and peacefully lead and participate in ongoing and upcoming activities that have a bearing on the 2021 general election, including registering for national IDs and clearly indicating their preferred place of voting.
"We reiterate, that, amidst the rising tide of threats to democracy, it is critical to continuously nurture an environment where citizens have the power to genuinely determine by whom, and how, they are governed," says Kaheru.
Adding: "Finally, as we commemorate the International Day of Democracy, let us remember that democracy flourishes when people feel represented and able to freely substantively participate in the political affairs of their society."
On Friday, the UN pledged more support to Uganda's electoral democracy at an event in the capital Kampala commemorating the day.
Sheila Ngatia, the UNDP deputy resident representative in Uganda, said this year's democracy commemoration is an opportunity to recall that democracy is about the people.
Democracy is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation and is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights, she said.
Ngatia was speaking at Kololo Independence Grounds ahead of today's (Sunday's) global commemoration.
She underlined that true democracy is a two-way street, built on a constant dialogue between civil society and the political class.
"This dialogue must have real influence on political decisions. This is why political participation, civic space and social dialogue make up the very foundations of good governance."
Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama was at the event.
He said participating in polls is a way of being involved in the political affairs of the country, and that doing so "reflects a high sense of citizen responsibility".
Byabakama also thanked the UNDP for throwing its weight behind Uganda's democracy process.
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