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Govt extends time for electoral petitions

Attorney General William Byaruhanga who tabled electoral reforms to the flow of Parliament last week. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – Government in its newly tabled electoral reforms is seeking to increase the time for lodging an election petition from the current 10 days to fifteen days.

Details of the proposal are contained in the five bills that were tabled last week by Attorney General William Byaruhanga in fulfilment of Supreme Court recommendations following the election petition filed by former Premier Amama Mbabazi after the 2016 general elections.

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 Supreme Court in its 20th August 2016 detailed judgement made ten recommendations on electoral reforms among which include the call for extension of time for the filing and determination period of presidential election petitions from the current 30 days to 60 days.

This extension is to enable the concerned parties and court to adequately prepare and present their case.

Copies of the Bills indicate that under the Presidential elections for instance, unsatisfied candidates shall have 15 days to lodge their petition to the Supreme Court, a shift from 10 days currently provided for.

Although the Supreme Court recommended an extension for hearing election petitions to 60 days up from the current 30 days, their prayers have been partially honoured with an extension accorded but only to 45 days within which to determine a presidential petition.

In case of a re-run, the Electoral Commission will have to organise fresh elections within 60 days, as opposed to 20 days in the current law.

The proposed bill however also aligns the scrapping of the Age limit, to pave way for the implementation of the 2017 Constitutional amendments when MPs in a majority decision, repealed article 102 B.

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