Electoral commission has opposed the proposal that elections in newly created districts and constituencies should be halted until the next round of general elections. The proposal is among several others in the Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill, 2019.
Electoral Commission has opposed a proposal by
government to delay polls in newly created districts and constituencies until
the next round of general elections. This is one of the proposals in the
Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill, 2019.
However, on Tuesday, a delegation from the Electoral Commission
led by their chairperson, Justice Simon
Byabakama rejected the proposal while presenting their views on the five
electoral reform Bills being scrutinized by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Justice Byabakama highlighted the electoral body's views on
the presidential and parliamentary elections Bills, saying he will on a later
date submit views the Local Governments elections, Electoral Commission
and Political Parties and Organisations bills.
The parliamentary elections Bill seeks to amend the
Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005 that provides that elections should be
held sixty days after the creation of a new district or constituency. However,
Byabakama asked the committee to reconsider the proposal, saying it contravenes
constitutional provisions on creation of constituencies and representation by a
Member of Parliament.
He noted that while the proposal could have
been mooted due to the challenges, mostly lack of funds to hold elections in
newly created districts, there is need to review it.
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Parliament approved the creation of several districts in a
phased manner in 2015 effective July 1st, 2016 up to 2019. They include
among others Nabilatuk, Kapelebyong, Bugweri, Kwania, Kassanda and Kikuube
However, Electoral Commission has since failed to
conduct polls in the new districts citing lack of funds. Several new districts
including Obongi, Kazo, Rwampara, Kitagwenda, Madi-Okollo and Karenga became
operational effective July 1, 2019.
However, no election has been held to elect
leaders for the new districts. The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee Vice
Chairperson, Sam Bitangaro asked Byabakama to explain the implications of the government's
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In an interview, Byabakama told Uganda Radio Network that the
Commission needs about Shillings 7 billion to conduct elections in the new
districts created in last two financial years, but the funds have not been
provided even in the 2019/2020 budget.
There is a risk that the EC could be sued for
not holding the elections in accordance with the constitution and parliamentary
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Byabakama also proposes that more time should be given to the
commission to publish results for parliamentary elections because the proposal
that results should be declared and published within 48 hours after the polling
date puts enormous pressure on the electoral body.
Mitooma Woman MP, Jovah Kamateekah however asked the
commission on what would be a more realistic deadline to publish the results.
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The EC also wants MPs to impose a ban on presidential,
parliamentary and local government candidates who fail to comply with
campaign timelines. Government proposes that candidates who fail to
comply with the set campaign timelines of 7am to 6pm should upon conviction pay
a fine not exceeding Shillings 960,000 or serve a maximum of two years in jail.
Byabakama welcomes the proposal but says that there is need to enhance the
sanctions against non-compliance with electoral timelines. The electoral body also wants the use of
cameras banned inside polling stations to protect the voter’s right of
secrecy. It proposes a fine not exceeding Shillings 960,000 or not
exceeding two years in jail or both.
However, the committee members opposed the proposal, saying
that cameras are important for gathering evidence such as irregularities at
polling stations. The MPs however agree that the cameras shouldn’t be
stationed around voting booths.