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They will cause anarchy! NGO Forum urges govt to ditch proposed electoral reforms

Attorney General William Byaruhanga tabled electoral reform bills to Parliament last week. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The National NGO Forum has described as misguided the electoral reforms tabled by government last week and urged the State to follow the recommendations of the Supreme Court and table new ones.

Last week, Attorney General William Byaruhanga tabled before Parliament five electoral reform bills, including the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill No.17, 2019, the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill No.18, 2019, Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill No. 19, 2019, the Political Parties and Organization (Amendment) Bill No. 20, 2019 and the Local Governments (Amendment) Bill No.21, 2019.

But 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.

Some of the recommendations by the Supreme Court include regulation of public servants from meddling in politics, election financing and donations among others. According to Mr Ssewakiryanga, Uganda’s electoral process has been marred with violence, vote rigging and numerous electoral petitions since 2011.

He urged government to include the electoral reforms proposed by other players like civil society organisations through the citizens compact that were generated following countrywide consultations.

Mr Ssewakiryanga asked Government to use the existing time to present the electoral reforms as recommended by the Supreme Court.

On Monday, the Forum for Democratic Change introduced its own version of electoral reforms and said the ones proposed by the ruling government are a ploy to rig the 2021 elections.

Addressing a press conference at their head offices in Najjanankumbi near Kampala, FDC deputy spokesman John Kikonyogo particularly singled out the government proposal that security forces will vote four days before official polling dates.

This, he said, is intended to intimidate security forces who have traditionally voted FDC in the past elections.

“It is on record that FDC has been winning in all Army Barracks including Special Forces Command (SFC), an army that guards Mr. Museveni. It is interesting that People who are assumed to be guarding Mr. Museveni dont see leadership competence in him and never vote for him. This law, therefore, is specifically intended to gag and intimidate the army from democratic processes where they are entitled to freely make choice of their leaders,” he said.

Butambala MP Muwanga Kivumbi said the bill seek to introduce stringent proposals especially curtailing independent candidates and party defections. He also says the bills also propose that members of security forces vote earlier so they can freely safeguard the elections. The bills also reportedly seek to stop political parties from associating with pressure groups among others.

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