Media called upon to promote peaceful campaigns

Feb 10, 2016

Mr. Bouri Sanhoudi, UNDP Uganda’s acting Resident Representative delivers his remarks at the Electoral Commission Media Dinner, where he called on media to practise conflict sensitive journalism. (Photo Credit: UNDPUganda 2016).

Kampala - The Electoral Commission has called upon the media to promote peaceful campaigns and support conflict prevention by ensuring that political differences and debates do not lead to hostility or escalate to conflict levels.

The call was made by the Commission’s Chairman, Dr. Badru Kiggundu, at a dinner organised for the media. With the theme, Media and Elections: Expectations and Challenges before, during and after elections, the dinner was an opportunity for both parties to discuss their roles and expectations during electoral season.

“The media can often unintentionally or intentionally incite violence through unbalanced or inflammatory reporting. We therefore urge you to exercise the highest level of professionalism, as this is critical to your safety and the safety of others,” Dr. Kiggundu asked of the media.

He thanked the media for providing complementary airtime to the commission to provide voter education and encouraged them to make use of the electoral guidelines for the media which were shared during the dinner.   

Mr. Bouri Sanhoudi, UNDP Uganda’s acting Resident Representative who was also in attendance advised the media to practise conflict-sensitive journalism during the election season. He described conflict-sensitive journalism as a type of reportage that empowers journalists to cover sensitive events such as conflicts with professionalism and responsibility minus feeding the flames, covering all sides and discussing issues related to the unfolding context.

“The public is normally dependent on the media for comprehensive, impartial and accurate information on a significant event-whether conflicts or an election. In fact, one journalist argued that journalists can best serve victims by balancing humanity and professionalism,” he said.

Adding to this was the Guest speaker at the dinner, Mr. Joseph Odindo, Editorial Director for Standard Group Kenya, who emphasised the importance of journalists maintaining professionalism, ensuring transparency and accuracy as report on the election process.

“Good journalism is being acutely aware of the consequences of your reports,” he said while addressing the media, adding that professional reporting should be done and not only said to be done, reminding them to keep in mind that Uganda as a country is bigger than the candidates.

Sharing some key lessons from the Kenyan experience during its last few elections, Mr. Odindo called on the media to ensure that they have a five year plan that covers before, during and after elections to enable them remain focused on the issues and avoid getting emotive or partisan.

He also cautioned them on opinion polls, saying that they do not measure passion or sentiment and advised them to find a way to measure those two elements as they are the key determinants for voter turnout on Election Day.  

The media dinner was organised by the National Electoral Commission with support from UNDP’s Peace Architecture for Conflict Transformation Framework project which is leading the United Nations (UN) electoral support to Uganda. It is being delivered in three phases - pre-election, during and post-election and working in partnership with the Electoral Commission, National Consultative Forum, The Elders Forum of Uganda, Inter Religious Council of Uganda and Media Council of Uganda.

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