Uganda: Government Presents Electoral Reforms, Ignores Constitutional Review

Members of parliament debate during the plenary session recently. Parliament on Wednesday rejected President Museveni’s directive on Income Tax Bill.

The electoral reforms presented to Parliament consolidate a resolution by the ruling NRM decision to bar candidates from running independent of their party after losing a primary.

A set of the five reforms presented by the Attorney General, Mr William Byaruhanga, have major focus on independent candidates and how they qualify to run for office as President, Member of Parliament (MP) or district leader.

The bills include the Presidential Elections Amendment Bill 2019, and the Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill 2019.

Others include the Electoral Commission Amendment Bill 2019, the Political Parties and Organisations Bill 2019, and the Local Governments Amendment Bill 2019.

Under the Political Parties and Organisations Bill, 2019, political parties are not allowed to have links with pressure groups.

The Bill also proposes that no candidate shall run independent of a party after participating in a party primary, yet at the same time, those elected as independents shall have a right to enter into alliance with any political party of their choice upon joining Parliament.

Candidates who seek for election as independents are required to produce evidence from their political parties confirming that they exited the party, at least one year before the nomination date.

The same provisions above apply to presidential candidates and those vying for district leadership.

According to the Electoral Commission roadmap, nomination of candidates for Presidential and Parliamentary elections is slated between June and October 2020.

In a related development, declaration of results for presidential and parliamentary candidates shall be made in the presence of only five people.

Cameras, mobile phones and any related recording devices are prohibited from a polling area.

Under the Presidential elections amendment Bill, an independent presidential candidate shall not enter into alliance with any political party.

All candidates shall within 14 days after nomination be required to inform the Electoral Commission, the sources of their funding.

The Electoral Commission will have powers to gazette an area a restricted area in the event of insecurity or disease outbreak.

The proposals also suggest for security personnel (police and military) to be allowed to vote at least five days to the general polling date.

Meanwhile, a section of MPs, including Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Nuwagaba, and Buliisa County MP Stephen Mukitale have faulted the government for ignoring matter of a comprehensive constitutional review.

The Speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, has instructed the legislators to table private members Bills.

The House Committee on Legal and Parliamentary affairs has only 45 days to process the Bills and report back to Parliament.

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