Uganda: Candidates Want EC to Facilitate Their Agents' Travel Abroad

26 November 2020

Presidential candidates have asked the Electoral commission (EC) to facilitate their agents who are supposed to travel to three countries to witness the printing and packing process of ballot papers.

The request came after the EC chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama, wrote to the 11 presidential candidates last week to nominate agents who will travel to Dubai, South Africa and Abdu dhabi at the cost of the political parties.

But speaking at their weekly press conference in Kampala on Tuesday, DP spokesperson Opio Okoler said while it is good for EC to engage stakeholders in the printing of the ballot papers, the electoral body should pay for the travel of their agents.

"More importantly, we have some stakeholders who cannot transport and sustain their agents to witness the printing process because a lot of money is incurred," he said.

Mr Okoler added that some parties and independent candidates may not be able foot the bill.

Independent candidate John Katumba said he cannot afford paying for an agent to witness the process abroad.

"My work is to choose the person and EC pays the bill. The mere fact that EC squeezed us to pay Shs20m for nomination, I cannot be able to get funds for that process," he said.

National Unity Platform secretary general David Rubongoya told Daily Monitor that as a party, they have not yet decided on that issue.

"We expect to have a meeting before this week ends to come up with a decision on that matter," he said.

'It is EC's duty'

The National Resistance Movement spokesperson, Mr Rogers Mulindwa, said it is the EC's responsibility to fund the agents .

"Asking political parties to facilitate their agents is like making a confession that they cannot manage to do their task as an independent commission in-charge of general elections,"he said

Independent candidate Joseph Kabuleeta said asking him to facilitate his agent is sad.

The only female presidential candidate in the race, Ms Nancy Kalembe, said it is the EC's job to facilitate the travel of the agents because the Commission is the one that selected foreign firms to print the ballot papers.

"We do not have resources right now amidst everything that is happening to start sending people abroad; this is another way government trying to stretch us," she said.

However, EC spokesperson Paul Bukenya, said yesterday that the agents are part of election observers and they have to meet their own costs.

"Our duty is to credit them and they observe the particular exercise they want to observe, so those who are interested to take part in that exercise they should apply and we accredit them so that they can do it at their cost," he said.

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