Representatives from the different political parties under the Interparty Platform Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) have held a symposium over the electoral reforms that were recently tabled before Parliament by the government Attorney General, William Byaruhanga.
The meeting held at Méstil Hotel in Kampala saw a number of party leaders in attendance including; DP’s Norbert Mao, FDC’s Patrick Amuriat, UPC’s Lawrence Okae, NRM’s James Tweheyo, JEEMA’s Kibirige Mayanja as well as the IPOD Council members and Party Youth and Women Leagues leaders.
In July, the Attorney General tabled electoral reforms before Parliament as recommended by the Supreme Court ruling in a case of Amama Mbabazi against Yoweri Museveni and Electoral Commission (EC).
The Bills that were presented include; the Presidential Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Political Parties and Organization (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
At Tuesday’s symposium, different political parties noted that it is unfortunate that most of the reforms needed by citizens have not been catered for in the reforms that were tabled by Parliament.
DP’s Secretary General, Gerald Blacks Siranda noted that Ugandans have for long demanded for reinstating of Presidential term limits which were removed from the country’s constitution.
UPC’s Secretary General Fred Ebil said that among the many other reforms that should have been highlighted is the removal of the army from Parliament so that members can debate freely without fear.
“Since we are in multipartyism system of governance, UPDF representatives should be withdrawn from Parliament, recently a UPDF representative was about to slap a female legislator in Parliament. UPDF should also be barred from participating in elections monitoring and leave the work to Police,” Ebil said.
NRM’s James Tweheyo appreciated government for responding to the demands by its citizens in introducing the much desired reforms ahead of the election period.
“There was a need to address electoral reforms and this was to harmonize with demands by the citizens and in conformity with the Supreme Court ruling of the Presidential Electoral Petition of Amama Mbabazi Vs Yoweri Museveni and others,” Tweheyo said.
Tweheyo said that among the amendments that they agree with is the call for elections to run form 7am to 7pm.
“We would suggest for a lining up during elections in a bid to reduce election costs and encourage transparency. We keep wondering why other parties are fearing lining up during elections yet they claim to be honest,” Tweheyo said.
FDC’s Patrick Amuriat noted that for any free and fair elections to exist in Uganda, the composition of the Electoral Commission must be first looked into.
“For any election where the Electoral Commission is still appointed by the one person, we should not expect any credible elections; this is what we should deal with first,” Amuriat said.
He expressed no optimism in the reforms tabled, nothing that these won’t be the first reforms to be passed only for their implementation to later be failed. This is due to lack of the political will by the sitting government, he said.
On the other hand, JEEMA’s Kibirige Mayanja stressed that proportional representation would be the best cure for the country’s current political fever.