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Parliament resumes consultations on Electoral Reforms

Attorney General William Byaruhanga appearing before the House (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee is set to resume consultations into the constitutional amendments introduced by Attorney General, William Byaruhanga with a number of witnesses lined up to give their views on the proposed electoral reforms.

The Bills tabled include; 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 Committee that has been traversing the country to seek views of voters on the proposed amendments concluded their consultations and are set to hold marathon meetings with a number of stakeholders before Parliament takes a final decision on the proposals brought by Government.

According to the schedule, the Uganda Law Reform Commission will appear first, followed by Electoral Commission with Uganda Local Government Association set to also give views on the reforms.

The Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) will appear on Wednesday and Inter-religious Council will follow swiftly.

The registered political parties haven’t been left out with National Resistance Movement, Forum for Democratic Change and Democratic Party lined up to appear on Thursday.

The other parties lined up are; Uganda People Congress, Justice Forum and Alliance for National Transformation will wrap up the consultations among political parties.

In the proposals tabled by the Attorney General, Government is seeking to prohibit use of cameras or recording devices at polling stations with the bill highlighting, In the process of voting, a person shall not use a camera of any kind or any recording device inside a polling station.

A person who contravenes this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding forty eight currency points equivalent to Shs960,000 or imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.

Government also proposed to curtail influence of independent politicians with the bill stipulating that a person is eligible to stand for election as an independent if that person is not a member of a registered political party or organisation or having ceased to be a member of a political party or organisation twelve months before nomination days or also having never been registered as a member of a political party or organisation.

On dealing with campaign financing, the bill seeks to bar a candidate or candidate’s agent from obtaining, solicit or receive any financial or other assistance from any foreign Government institution, body or person which or who has demonstrated an intention to overthrow the lawfully established government of Uganda or to endanger the security of Uganda

Aspirants are also barred from obtaining, soliciting or receiving any financial or other assistance from an organisation which has been declared a terrorist organisation under the Anti-Terrorism Act 2002.

A presidential candidate caught with illicit money or other assistance obtained by a candidate contrary to the provision shall be forfeited to the State by order of the court convicting a person while parliamentary candidates or their agents face jail of five years or pay fine not exceeding one hundred and twenty currency points equal to Shs2.4M.

However, the recommendation by the supreme court barring public servants from joining campaign trails was rejected by Government arguing that the suggestion requires detailed study given that the constitution guarantees a right to vote and participation in electoral processes and therein needs to draw a line between participation in partisan politics as civil right and duty on one hand, and conversing for support for a candidate on the other hand.

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