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Elections in new districts to be held in 2021

Attorney General William Byaruhanga tabling the electoral reforms before the House. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – An amendment to the current legislation will see elections in the newly-created districts held only during the forthcoming general elections in 2021.

This has put an end to the confusion surrounding when the elections in the newly created districts would be conducted.

Government’s proposal is contained in the electoral reforms that were tabled by Attorney General, William Byaruhanga on 25th July 2019 as part of the Executive’s response to recommendations made by the Supreme Court ruling in the Amama Mbabazi presidential election petition.

The Attorney-General tabled a number of proposed amendments including; The Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Political Parties and Organisation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill and the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The law in its current form mandates the Electoral Commission to organize elections whenever a new polling area is created, but the creation of the new administrative units hasn’t been incommensurate with funding to conduct the elections, creating an administrative quagmire among voters.

The proposal is contained in the Local Government Amendments Bill 2019, the Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill 2019 and the Electoral Commission Bill amendment Bill.

Hardly a month passes before lawmakers raise questions on the floor of Parliament when Government intends to hold elections in the newly created districts.

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, also weighed in on the matter she has questioned Government’s shift from the earlier practice of holding elections of new leaders in general elections to the new method that isn’t backed up by funding.

While receiving a petition from the members of the Inter Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD), a platform for all political parties represented in Parliament, including Conservative Party (CP), Democratic Party (DP), and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Justice Forum (JEEMA), National Resistance Movement (NRM) and Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) in June Hon Kadaga described as untenable the creation of new administrative units without planning to see the units take off.

“The other matter which bothered me is a new system whereby districts are created. You know we have failed to hold by-elections now for more than a year,” she said in June 2019.

While appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee in February 2019, the Electoral Commission revealed that the districts of; Nabitatuk, Bugweri, Kassanda, Kwania, Kapelebyong and Kikuube were meant to have come into effect by 1st July 2018 and an additional seven districts are meant to come into effect by 1st July 2019 and these include; Obongi, Lusot, Karenga, Kitagwenda, Madi-Okollo, Rwampara and Kazo.

The Commission admitted to failing to operationalise the new districts that became effective July 2016, six districts effective July 2017, six districts effective July 2018 and proposed seven districts that will become effective in July 2019 due to absence of funds.

The annual wage bill and non-wage component for the twenty-three districts is UGX 3.461Bn and UGX 3.507Bn respectively bringing it to a total to UGX 6.968Bn.

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