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Electoral Reforms Consultations: Political Parties No Show

Dr. Gerald Siranda, the Acting DP Secretary General told URN that by the time they arrived at parliament, MPs had dispersed. "We were supposed to appear at 3pm and when we contacted the Chairperson, he said that the committee's earlier meetings had failed forcing the MPs to disperse. He gave us a new appointment for Tuesday next week," said Siranda.
Political parties failed to appear before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on Thursday to present their views on the Electoral Reform Bills before parliament.  

The Committee had scheduled to hear the views from the ruling the National Resistance Movement-NRM party, the opposition Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party and the Democratic Party-DP. However, the meeting hit a snug after NRM and FDC asked to reschedule the meeting at the last minute.  

The committee efforts to reach DP officials to confirm their appearance proved futile. However, Dr. Gerald Siranda, the Acting DP Secretary General told URN that by the time they arrived at parliament, MPs had dispersed. "We were supposed to appear at 3pm and when we contacted the Chairperson, he said that the committee's earlier meetings had failed forcing the MPs to disperse. He gave us a new appointment for Tuesday next week," said Siranda. 

 

He said DP was ready with its views on the proposed reforms and that it was the committee that became impatient. The FDC Spokesperson, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said his party had formally written to the committee asking for an extension given the fact that party officials are held up in Hoima ahead of the District Woman MP by-elections.   

He said the party would appear at the most convenient time for the committee after their campaigns in Hoima. The NRM Deputy Secretary General, Richard Todwong, said he wasn’t aware why his party failed to appear, saying that all was set for them to appear by the time he left Kampala for official duty.

The electoral reform Bills tabled by government include the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill, the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill, the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, the Political Parties and Organization (Amendment) Bill and the Local Governments (Amendment) Bill.     

The Bills seek to among other things reform electoral laws relating to the qualification of candidate’s campaign, financing and the procedure in which presidential, parliamentary, local governments elections will be held and the role of political parties and the Electoral Commission. 

The bills also seeks to incorporate the ten recommendations made by the Supreme Court in the 2016 presidential election petition and the Constitutional Amendment Act which scrapped the age limit for presidential and local government candidates. 

The opposition through the Constitutional Amendment Bill spearheaded by the Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba is also mooting other reforms including reinstating presidential term limits, removal of the representation of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) representatives from parliament, and restrict the number of Cabinet Ministers and other Ministers to 21 respectively, increasing the number of members of the Electoral Commission (EC) from 7 to 9 and others.