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Lawyer Seeks Interim Injunction Against EC Over Exclusion of Prisoners, Ugandans in Diaspora

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Section 19 of the Electoral Commission Act states that any person who is a citizen of Uganda and is above 18 years shall apply to be registered as a voter in a parish or where he or she resides in as far as the Constitution is concerned. The law is silent on Ugandans in the diaspora and those in prison
City Lawyer Steven Kalali has sued the EC in High Court Civil Division in Kampala. File Photo
City lawyer, Steven Kalali has run to court seeking orders blocking Electoral Commission from excluding the prisoners and Ugandans in diaspora from the ongoing voter registration. In his suit before the High Court Civil Division, Kalali wants court to compel Electoral Commission and government to register all adult Ugandan inmates and Ugandans in the diaspora to participate in the ongoing voter's register update exercise.

He also wants court to order EC to extend the deadline for updating the voter’s register from December 11th pending determination of his main suit filed in 2018 seeking similar orders. The suit is awaiting Judgment before Justice, Lydia Mugambe who has set March 23, 2020 to deliver her verdict on the matter. Kalali contends that since the inception of the 1995 Constitution, Uganda has had five general elections citizens in prisons and the diaspora.

Section 19 of the Electoral Commission Act states that any person who is a citizen of Uganda and is above 18 years shall apply to be registered as a voter in a parish or where he or she resides in as far as the Constitution is concerned. The law is silent on Ugandans in the diaspora and those in prison. He asks court to consider his application, saying several Ugandans will suffer irreparable damage by missing the 2021 polls, should court fail to grant his prayers. 

"That if this application isn’t granted, adult, Ugandan prisoners and those living in the diaspora shall suffer irreparable damage having lost the right to choose who should govern them /participate in democracy", reads the suit in part. He argues that the Uganda government will lose noting by allowing Ugandan inmates to vote since other countries like Virginia, Kenya, Sweden and South Africa allow them to vote. 

He also noted that countries like Kenya and Rwanda among others allow their citizens in Uganda (in diaspora for that purpose) do participate in voting of their respective leaders. On November, 21st, 2019, the Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama announced a general update of the national voters Register across all the 135 districts in the country.  

On Tuesday, he extended the voter register update exercise from December 11 to December, 16th, 2019.  However, Kalali insists that this time is still insufficient. Kalali’s application has been fixed for hearing tomorrow before High Court Civil Division Registrar, Sarah Langa.

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