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Grossly inaccurate! Govt accuses opposition of misinterpreting proposed electoral reforms

A CCEDU official observing Kyadondo East by-election in Wakiso in June 2017. Government has come out to slam critics and the opposition for misinterpreting the electoral reforms. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The government has said the public has misinterpreted the proposed electoral reforms it tabled in Parliament last week.

Addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala on Tuesday, Attorney General William Byaruhanga said many of the clauses being discussed by different sections of society about the Bills are not true.

“Many of the clauses [people] are talking about, and which are being covered in the media, are not there. These things are factually incorrect,” Mr Byaruhanga said.

One of the contentious clauses in the proposed reforms that has angered the public, the opposition and the civil society is the clause stipulating that security personnel will vote five days before the rest. But the Attorney General dismissed this.

“From the Bills tabled before Parliament, there is no single provision that has a direct or indirect expression as to early voting by soldiers and other security personnel; prohibition on the use of cameras or cell phones at a polling station. These are mere concoctions maliciously made for other political motives,” Mr Byaruhanga said.

Attorney General William Byaruhanga. (PHOTO/File)

He said it is proposed that a presiding officer at a polling station shall open the ballot box in the presence of at least five registered voters, and not declare results of five voters as alleged.

On tightening the political noose on Independents, he explained that a person elected to Parliament as an Independent candidate may form an alliance with a registered political party or organisation, but the “forming of an alliance shall not be construed as joining that political party or organization…”

Mr Byaruhanga last Thursday tabled five Bills, which seek to amend the presidential, parliamentary and local government elections laws ahead of the 2021 general elections.

These included the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill No 17, 2019; the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill No 18, 2019; the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill No 19, 2019; The Political Parties and Organisations (Amendment) Bill No 20, 2019; and, the Local Government (Amendment) Bill No 21, 2019.

Copies of the Bills were not immediately available to lawmakers and the public, resulting in speculation that the draft legislations targeted to eliminate Independent candidates for parliamentary seats and block Independent presidential candidates from making an alliance with any registered political party.

On Monday, the National NGO Forum described as misguided the electoral reforms tabled by government and urged the State to follow the recommendations of the Supreme Court and table new ones. Mr Richard Ssewakiryanga, the Executive Director NGO Forum, said the proposals will lead to anarchy since they target-independent candidates, pressure groups and voting by security forces but leave out the recommendations by the Supreme Court.

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