Govt defers LC elections to April

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Elections for Local Council I and II as well as women councillors will be held in April, according to Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, the government Chief Whip.

Although she did not reveal the date, Ms Nankabirwa said all was set and what is left was for the Electoral Commission to fix dates.
“The country has been waiting for these elections for quite some time. We are sorry we did not fulfil as we had earlier informed but I assure [you] that these important administrative units will be in place before end of April,” she said.
Ms Nankabirwa also said the delays in conducting the polls were caused by drought and related disasters that swept across the country.

“We have been going through challenges of the drought and we had to prioritise again. We had to look for money to purchase food for our people not to die,” she added.

Last week, Justice (rtd) Simon Byabakama, the Electoral Commission chairperson said there would be no elections for as long as government fails to avail Shs16 billion for the exercise.

EC replies
However, Mr Jotham Taremwa, the Electoral Commission spokesperson told Daily Monitor that Ms Nankabirwa’s announcements could be misleading

“The Electoral Commission has not set any date yet for local council elections. We shall inform the country when we approve the programme. Please ignore any other communication other than that of the Commission,” said Mr Taremwa.

Meanwhile, Ms Nankabirwa also revealed that the ruling National Resistance Movement is already prepared for the elections since they have got existing structures.

“We already have our flag bearers whom we elected long ago but the Secretary General [Kasule Lumumba] is touching base on the ground to make sure that where there are gaps and our candidates died, we can be able to replace them in time,” she said.

Opposition’s take
Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) still faults the Electoral Commission for failure to issue out timely guidelines on the elections.

Maj Gen (rtd) Mugisha Muntu, the FDC Party President told Daily Monitor: “What matters is not how prepared parties are but the voters…there is a new law on how these elections will be held. Is the population aware of this law?”

Like earlier, Gen Muntu asked government to emulate the practice by FDC whose road map for the November elections for Party President is already out.

“We only have 1,000 voters in FDC, but we already have a roadmap, with clear guidelines including the polling date…I pity such people purporting to organise a mass election in only one month,” said Gen Muntu.

Unlike Gen Muntu, Mr Jimmy Akena, the president for Uganda Peoples Congress said the time left for the polls is enough and that it is only up to political players to line up their candidates.
Mr Akena’s argument is premised on grounds that the elections have been expected since January when Parliament passed the Local Government Bill, 2016.

“We are going to do our best within the time left and with the few resources at our disposal to support our candidates wherever it is feasible,” he said.

Parliament early this year passed the Local Government Amendment Bill 2016 which paves way for the reduction of display of voters register to only two days, while campaigns were also reduced to only one day.

Elections will also be held along a multi-party arrangement where voters will have to queue behind their respective candidates in an attempt to cut costs.

Last election. The last LC 1 and 2 elections were held in 2001, three years before the country changed from a single party “Movement” to a Multi-Party political system in 2005.

Failed attempts. Other attempts to hold fresh LC elections in 2006 were thwarted by the Constitutional Court ruling on the petition by then member of the Opposition FDC party Ruranga Rubaramira who challenged the legality of the existing Local Councils elected under the Movement.

Procedure. Elections will be held along a multi-party arrangement where voters will have to queue behind their respective candidates in an attempt to cut costs. This move is being challenged by the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda, a broad coalition of civil society organisations who said they will conduct four public consultations.

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