The media in conflict management: A comparative study of the 2001 and 2006 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Uganda.
MetadataShow full item record
This study examines the role of the media in conflict management during elections in Uganda. The media in-particular have been brought into sharp focus recently as key players in conflict management. Situations of civil strife, war and social disruptions like a disorganized electoral process make news, as conflict is a time-tested news value. But, at the same time, the media can be used to settle social conflicts. The objectives of the study were: to identify the part played by the media in the management of conflict during the 2001 and 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections in Uganda, and to find out the challenges met by the media in the management of conflicts during the electoral process with reference to the 2001 and 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections in Uganda. Using a qualitative research approach, this study sought to investigate how different actors like journalists, presidential and parliamentary candidates, religious and cultural leaders, senior citizens and ordinary citizens perceived the role of the media in conflict management during the 2001 and 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections. To obtain data, the researcher used interviews, focus group discussions and open-ended questionnaires, as secondary data sources. The study found out that the media did a lot in promoting conflict and dividing the electorate. The media faced challenges ranging from political manipulation and patronage, intimidation by security agents and coercion using the court system. Therefore, given the role of media in conflict management during 2001 and 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections, one would recommend that there is need to reduce election violence, intimidation, and fear that is generated by the media by reorienting media roles during elections towards a sense of civic responsibility, voter education, objective politicking, the promotion of democratic principles during campaigns, and the objective use of media stations without discriminating on party lines. Media stations are supposed to serve the interests of all Ugandans irrespective of their political affiliations implying it should be considered as a major tool for minimizing conflicts during elections just as it has all along been used in many countries for the promotion of peace in war torn areas. At the same time, the media should be used in the promotion of voter education and encourage professional reporting during contentious incidences like elections. Media people and proprietors should use the media houses to report objectively because it is their professional mandate.