Ugandan Civil Society Denies Allegations of Toppling the Government

BY BENJAMIN MWIBO

Ugandan civil society organizations have firmly rejected rumors of involvement in activities aimed at toppling the government and propagating Western values within the society.

During the third national conference on strengthening civil society activities in Uganda, organized in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Uganda, these organizations urged the government to establish a positive working relationship in Kampala.

The conference, held under the theme “Enhancing Civil Society’s Contribution in Uganda,” emphasized crucial areas such as Human Rights, Legality, Democracy, and Non-discrimination.

Previous engagements in 2021 and 2022 focused on creating an enabling environment for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Uganda, exploring opportunities and challenges, and bolstering their resilience and sustainability.

Monica Azimi, Director of Democracy and Governance at USAID, highlighted the global commitment of the United States government, and specifically USAID, in supporting civil societies worldwide, including those in Uganda. She cited President Joe Biden’s prioritization of human rights, democratic values, and the fight against corruption and democratic backsliding on both domestic and international fronts.

Azimi further explained that CSOs play a vital role in assisting governments in devising policies to extend services, promote political pluralism, encourage dialogue, and enhance access to healthcare and education, particularly for marginalized communities.

However, Azimi expressed concern about the increasingly challenging and complex operating environment for CSOs in Uganda and worldwide, where they must continuously justify their actions and navigate restrictions that hamper their contributions to national development.

USAID expressed apprehension over the state’s control of the operating environment, which aims to limit citizens’ ability to convene, advocate for their needs, and express their desires.

USAID pledged to foster a positive working relationship among the government, CSOs, and the private sector to build a more inclusive and sustainable democracy. Additionally, the United States will continue to strengthen CSOs’ capacity to contribute to Uganda’s development and alleviate poverty.

According to Margaret Sekaggya, the Executive Director of the Human Rights Centre Uganda, CSOs should operate with professionalism, adhering to the standards and principles guiding national institutions despite the challenges they face.

The government is urged to appreciate the essential role played by CSOs, as they complement its efforts in implementing various programs, especially in extending services to the people. CSOs work with all segments of society and remain non-partisan, aiming to enhance public understanding of human rights and democratic principles, promoting knowledge and responsible governance.

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