Media practitioners, more so those in the online news business, have been called upon to support the process of delivering a peaceful, free and fair 2021 general election.
The call was made by Mr Sam Rwakoojo, the Secretary, Electoral Commission, who, while meeting members of the Online Media Publishers Association, expressed commitment by the EC to preside over a peaceful election process.
“As the election management body, we assure you as stakeholders, of our commitment to peaceful fraud-free elections,” he said.
“The Commission has built and continues to build capacity at all levels, to meet the legal, technological, logistical and administrative challenges which often come with polling day and post polling processes.”
Rwakoojo said however, that this can only be achieved if the media houses give a good public projection of the process and desist from inciting people.
“The conduct of the media as a whole but online media in particular on how it covers the elections and the role the media will play in keeping the Country united during and after elections will be equally scrutinised.”
According to Rwakoojo, some media houses, deliberately or otherwise, tend to incite violence through unbalanced, inaccurate or inflammatory reporting.
These, he advised to exercise the highest level of professionalism during the electoral journey to the 2020/2021 general elections.
During the meeting which took place at Hotel Africana, Rwakoojo promised media practitioners of protection during the entire process, noting that measures are being put in place to ensure that reporters are safe and their rights fully protected.
“We will be developing guidelines aimed at enhancing media safety during the electoral process. This includes briefing all stakeholders in the electoral process on media rights as well as their responsibilities, presence and security,” he said.
“In partnership with the Media Council, the regulatory authority and yourselves, the Commission will develop guidelines for media personnel, to enhance awareness among practitioners on their rights, roles and duties during the electoral process.”
The EC is already implementing parts of the electoral road map, for the 2021 presidential and parliamentary elections, which was unveiled on 11th December 2018.
Rwakoojo says the EC will continue organizing training workshops at National and Regional levels for the media personnel so as to equip them with knowledge of the electoral process to enable improvement in the area of election reporting.