Uganda has been asked to ratify and domesticate the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance which is an important tool as far as the promotion of human rights and sustainable development is concerned.
Members of East African Civil Society Organisations’ Forum say, without the ratification and domestication of the charter, Uganda will be paying lip service regarding true democracy as envisaged by the African Union that crafted and adopted it in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2007.
“Government should set deliberate measures to popularise the Africa Charter on Elections, Democracy and good governance agenda for all because it’s beneficial to democracy and harmony,” Mr Atukwatse Primus Bahiigi, the coordinator African Governance Architecture, Action Aid- International, said during their meeting in Kampala on Tuesday.
He said: “The charter emphasises respecting the rule of law and adherence to democratic principles as provided for under Article 5 of the charter. We call upon the government to ensure that the citizens are all capacitated to participate in the governance of their country with special emphasis on marginalised groups like people with disabilities and less privileged people,” .
He said since Uganda is a member of the East African Community and the African Union, it has an obligation to make sure that the charter is ratified and localised to serve its purpose.
“Since the charter is about adherence to democratic principles which condemn human rights violations, if ratified and localised, political leaders will be in better position to respect the rule of law and human rights,” he said.
Mr Benjamin Ocen, the Executive Director of Public Affairs Centre Uganda said the charter is a golden opportunity for Uganda to develop because good governance, rule of law and democracy breeds development, accountability and prosperity.
“Civil society has numerous times pushed for democratic reforms like electoral reforms in our country. Even the Interparty Party Organisation for Dialogue, an organ that unites all parties in Uganda came up with 19 proposals for reforms and when I look at those reforms, the key basis is the African Charter on Democracy. So, as a signatory, Uganda which was the first country to sign has to ratify and developed a framework to domesticate it,” he said.
He said: “Our current efforts of deepening and promoting democracy in the country are baseless. They are not hinged on Africa’s Union level aspirations. Until we ratify this document, then whatever we are doing in the name of deepening democracy is false,” he said.
He said since President Yoweri Museveni has always lectured Ugandans and Africans that outsiders cannot lecture them on democracy, he should be at the forefront of ratifying the charter because it is a good framework for deepening and strengthening democracy in Africa.
“Why haven’t we ratified it? Are we waiting for another lecturer from abroad to come and tell us to ratify this? There is a need for Uganda to hinge its own interest on deepening its democracy on this important charter,” he said.
He asked Parliament and citizens of Uganda to demand the ratification and domestication of the charter.