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Activities of CSOs Are Suspicious- Jeje Odongo

Speaking on Wednesday at the launch of a book titled, Civil Society in Uganda at Hotel Africana, the Minister for Internal Affairs Jeje Odongo says that the level of suspicion is high, which has led to the closure of some offices of CSOs, interdiction of CSO leaders and freezing of bank accounts.

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The Government is forced to interfere in the operations of Civil Society Organisations-CSOs because their activities are suspicious.

Speaking on Wednesday at the launch of a book titled, Uganda's Civil Society: History, Challenges and Prospects at Hotel Africana, the Minister for Internal Affairs Jeje Odongo says that the level of suspicion between civil society organizations and the NGO Board is high which has led to the closure of some offices of CSOs, interdiction of CSO leaders and freezing of bank accounts.

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Last year, the government banned the activities of NEW-U, an election observers’ loose coalition of more than 50 NGOs for allegedly operating illegally.

The bank accounts of the National NGO Forum, a membership organization with over 650 organizations and Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), an entity that brings together 20 Women’s Rights Organizations and nine individual activists were also frozen for allegedly engaging in money laundering and funding subversive activities.

Odongo admitted that there is friction between the government and civil society, but said that the government is committed to improving its working relationship with CSOs.

He also said that there is a need to appreciate the role of the CSOs in the country.

Odongo thanked the authors of the book, Arthur Larok and John De Coninck for providing information about CSOs activities. He said the books should be distributed to different government agencies.

He committed to hold periodic meetings with members from the Civil Society to discuss their work.

The Executive Director of Center for Constitutional Sarah Bireete says they have held several meetings with the authorities but the government continues to shrink the civic space.

Bireete says the government is comfortable with Civil Society Organizations that focus on service delivery like poverty alleviation programs and extending safe water to the communities but are hostile to CSOs focused on accountability, governance and democracy. 

Bireete says that the government needs to act under the law when dealing with the activities of CSOs.

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The Spokesperson of the National Unity Platform- NUP Joel Ssenyonyi, who also attended the book launch, says the government needs to appreciate positive criticism from members of the Civil Society and the opposition.

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