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Fellow Ugandans, as we vote, let’s protect and respect journalists

Editor

Fellow Ugandans, as we vote, let’s protect and respect journalists

Government is accused of prohibiting Media scrutiny of the electoral process

Fellow Ugandans, during these two weeks, we are undertaking the most fundamental civic responsibility of choosing our leaders.

The elections started on January 11 2021, with the election of Councilors for Older Persons to the Sub County/Town/Municipal Division, and will end on February 3, 2021 with the election of councilors and chairpersons for Sub County/Town/Municipal Division.

This is a duty that we perform once every five years. Five years is a long time. It is therefore a rare opportunity that comes our way and must be taken with the importance and seriousness it deserves.

We therefore call on every able bodied Ugandans to participate in this exercise for it greatly determines our individual, regional and national situation in the economy, health, environment, security and many other aspects of our lives.

The just ended political campaigns have been the most deadly since the ruling NRM government came to power 35 years ago this month.

An estimated 100 people have perished either by being targeted by security forces, as was the case on November 18, or have been found dead after being reported to have disappeared.

Many good things have also been witnessed. The incumbent president has commissioned many new and modern markets, hospitals and bridges and broken ground for construction of roads that have remained muddy for many generations.

As the media, we have done what we know is an incredible job of bringing these reports, good and bad to the waiting eyes and ears of the general public.

As we witnessed in the recent address of the Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth Ochola, the role of the media is not undermined by security forces.

Now, perhaps more than ever before, we ask of you our readers, viewers and listeners to return the favour by protecting journalists. As Journalists, we are your witnesses using our cameras and pens. We risk our lives, sacrifice our meagre resources to reach the scenes of abuses, or give platforms for those who wish to have their voices amplified.

Unfortunately the leaders ranging from above, have tried to minimize our importance by calling us rumour mongers. But without our presence, the voices of many if not the lives of thousands would have been lost.

As we line up to vote, we should cheer on our Journalists, protect them from being pushed or denied access by security forces, whom we have all clearly understood are bent on hiding their crimes from the eyes of the public.

The media council of Uganda this week rescinded it decision to block journalists who had not registered with them, to cover elections.

This means that if security personnel try to obstruct journalists on those grounds, members of the public should step in to defend them. The combined pressure and watchfulness of both the journalists and the public will also ensure that polling officials agents of candidates, security personnel don’t participate in changing the outcome of the elections.

 

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