The Women’s Democracy Network [WDN] in Uganda has warned President Museveni against the system of lining up behind candidates for the LC elections saying it will be subjected to a lot of manipulation.
In a statement to the President dated Dec 27, the WDN says open voting procedure adopted for the LCI and II elections is therefore contrary to the acceptable international standards for holding elections and may affect social cohesion which is critical for peace and development of Uganda.
WDN wants citizens to be allowed to make their choice without influence, violence, threat to apply violence or illegal coercion, not being afraid of penalty or influence in a secret ballot.
Voting by lining up behind the candidates for Local Council I and II was adopted in 2014 after Parliament overwhelmingly endorsed it during the debating and passing of the Local Government Amendment Bill 2014.
Uganda has not conducted elections for LCI [village] and LCII [parish] for the last 15 years, the last one having been held in 2001 before the country shifted from the one-party Movement system to the multiparty system of governance.
Ms Aritua says the elections must promote rather than undermine election legitimacy and integrity while reinforcing the notion of popular participation.
The women want the President to assent to the Local Government [Amendment] Bill 2016 as soon as possible to enable the Electoral Commission develop guidelines for the elections.
“We the women under WDN gathered here today on behalf of the larger women’s organisation are deeply concerned that the open voting procedure adopted for the LC1 and 11 elections is contrary to the acceptable international standards for holding elections and may affect social cohesion which is critical for peace and development of Uganda and we ask the government to rethink,” reads the letter in part.
The letter adds that “We are not against elections process but only demanding for the right things to be done before and during elections as women,”
The statement says many women are not given a chance to exercise their rights of voting through voting by lining up behind the person of their choice. “Many shall fear to vote candidates in of their choice due to the presence of their husbands yet we need equal treatment.”
The women prose that government adopts cheaper ballot papers with no pictures of candidates but with names of candidates arranged in alphabetical order with the party symbols or in the case of independents with their respective symbols to be used.
The statement says bearing in mind reservations in regard to open voting, WDN recommends that government should guarantee that Citizen’s rights to exercise their rights during and after the election will be protected.
“And Uganda Police and Electoral Commission in each district should share with citizens’ telephone numbers they can call if their rights are abused,” says Ms Aritua.
The women also want Parliament in the future, amend the Local Government [Amendment] Act 2014 and revert to the secret ballot system of voting.
Demand. The women want the President to assent to the Local Government [Amendment] Bill 2016 as soon as possible to enable the Electoral Commission develop guidelines for the elections.