Authored by Sarah Pacutho | On: Wed, 09/03/2014 - 09:02

The Free and Fair Elections campaign, which was initiated in February 2014 by a host of civil society organizations and political parties to mobilize Ugandans into a popular demand for a new system of managing elections, emanates from the National Citizens Manifesto process, the vision for Uganda, a peaceful and prosperous country with happy people.

In pursuit of this vision, CSOs and Political parties united in the quest for meaningful electoral reforms that would lead to the selection of the leaders they desire. To date, a number of joint activities have been conducted under the auspices of CALL Uganda, and the Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform (UGMP). These have ranged from Neighborhood Assemblies, Town Hall meetings, public rallies, media engagements and strategy meetings with different stakeholder groupings.

To take the process forward, a national consultation is being organized for the month of September 2014. However 14 regional forums will be convened in the build up to the national consultation. As a result, a training of regional facilitators was thus held on Tuesday 26th and Wednesday 27th August 2014 in Masaka attended by, over 90 participants that were drawn from the 14 sub regions.

These participants who are affiliated to civil society organizations, religious group leadership, teachers and community leadership across the regions went through an intense training in Masaka. The training employed diverse and innovative methods like group discussions, reflection corner, world café, recap sessions, plenary discussions and lectures.  Among other topics covered was the role of women in electoral democracy, the background and making of Uganda, a snapshot of the different electoral reform proposals and practical sessions on how to manage the regional consultations.

The participants also went through a reflection on Uganda’s history, which confirmed to them that they were all immigrants and so had no reason to selfishly claim any bit of the country. They then realized that instead of engaging in divisive activities, it was better for them all to work together to make Uganda a better country for all.

By the end of the training, there was evidence of renewed spirit of patriotism and energy for all participants to engage on the question of citizenship, as a uniting factor for all Ugandans.  The realization that the push for electoral reforms was a personal duty of every citizen sunk deep and triggered the participants to engage in citizen mobilization for democratic flourish. Speaker after speaker reechoed the extent to which this training had impacted on them and thus their renewed commitment to jointly work towards pursuing the Citizens Manifesto Vision of peace, prosperity and happiness.

The participants also acquired skills on how to handle and facilitate the regional consultations in their respective regions and were able to draft action plans in preparation of these consultative forums whose resolutions and experiences will feed into the national consultation to be held later this month.