Civil society offices of Action Aid in Kasanga and Great Lakes Institute For Strategic Studies in Ntinda are under police siege with staff not allowed to leave the premises. Police cordoned off the offices this evening, according to the sworn affidavit sworn before by Makindye Chief Magistrate's court by AIP Henry Peter Walya attached to the Criminal Investigations Department because Action Aid in particular is suspected of being used for elicit transfer of funds for illegal activities.

The two NGOs have been vocal against the lifting of the presidential age limit from between 35 years and 75 years from the Constitution.

According to Crispin Kaheru, coordinator of the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CEDDU), police indicated interest in the IT, Accounts and Country Director's offices. All electronic devices were put under search according to him. Yesterday, 287 of 296 the National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs voted in support of a motion by Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi seeking leave to present a private member's bill to lift age limit from the Constitution.

PROCESSIONS BANNED

In a related development, Police chief Gen Kale Kayihura has banned any processions ahead of the anticipated debate in Parliament over lifting the age limit. Opposition MPs and civil society had called on the citizenry to attend parliament to witness the 'castration' of the Constitution. It is also understood that NRM has also mobolised its supporters to counter any opposition demonstrators. Kayihura has advised the demonstrators to use other means such as TV and radio networks, indoor meeting, electronic and print media among others to express their support or disapproval.

Article Published by The Observer.

Crispin Kaheru, CCEDU

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It is quite unfortunate that at a time when Uganda is struggling with evils such as insecurity characterized by unresolved murders; widespread land evictions; natural disasters and unabated corruption, some politicians have in that heat of the moment chosen to instead pay attention to promoting and sponsoring debate around the amendment of article 102(b) of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda – to remove the age limits (35 – 75) for presidential candidates. First, this not only demonstrates how non-empathetic the agents of that debate are but it also speaks volumes to the levels of insensitivity that exist in Uganda as a whole.

With the hierarchy of issues that the country is facing now as already enumerated, the discussion on age limit would ideally be at the lowest of the ladder. But be that as it may, we have to contend with it, because it is now here before us. To amend or not to amend article 102(b) is an issue of the Constitution. In my humble understanding, once you move to touch on the Constitution, then you have advanced to touch on the heart and soul of the nation.

No discussion around the Constitution can be deemed complete without summoning the entire nation to pronounce itself on any alterations being made. Therefore, any discussions on Constitution amendments must reflect the will of the people – not just the will of their representatives. If there is going to be anything such as a discussion around the amendment of the Constitution, members of Parliament must in all honesty consult with their constituencies and represent the voice of their electorate. The bottom line is, citizens must stand at the center of any discussions around the Constitution – if it is truly their constitution.

There must be a genuine consultative process to determine if that soul of the nation must or must not be tinkered with. But in any case, where we stand now at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any compelling reasons as to why we must at this point in time amend article 102(b) and not any other articles in the Constitution. There has been longstanding pursuits from nearly all quotas of society to amend article 105 of the Constitution to reinstate two-five-year term limits on the presidency – these calls have not been heeded; what makes the amendment of article 102(b) a matter of life and death?

Again, why amend it before it is tested to know whether or not it is defective? Someone once said, “if it ain't broke, don't fix it”. Some of those in positions of influence seem to be pre-occupied with fixing things that are not broken and leaving those that are (too) broken unfixed. A few years ago the country pronounced itself on the need to amend article 60 of the Constitution to have the Electoral Commission (EC) appointed through a public, transparent and competitive process – rather than it being appointed just by the President; many elections have come and gone by, and the mode of appointment of the EC has not been changed. And here we are confronted with elections that go challenged every time, leading to endless by-elections; by-elections where lots of money is injected with little or no return on investment.

What makes the removal of the age limits a case of emergency at this particular point? Again, isn’t it more urgent to deal with the insecurity that is resulting into multiple murders and death of Ugandans every other day? Is it not more crucial to deal with the creeping culture of impunity in both public and private spaces? How I wish I could be helped to understand how the amendment of article 102(b) will foster peace and social cohesion in an increasingly divided and intolerant society that we are seeing. What sort of loss will the country face if the age limits are not tampered with? Will global stock markets crash or will Uganda cease to exist?

How will the amendment of article 102(b) create more jobs for Ugandans, generate more power, fix the bad roads? Will it take the economy out of the debilitated position in which it currently is? Only how I wish I were told that the amendment will ease the terrible traffic jams in Kampala or better still reduce the cost of public administration, curb poverty, reduce the rising inequality and sort out the wave of disasters.

Those routing for the amendment should show Ugandans how the change will create more investment opportunities for Uganda, result into better quality social services, provide food to the hunger stricken or better still, drive the country to a middle income status. Where we stand now, there doesn’t seem to be any correlation between removing age limits from the Constitution and delivering on those things that Ugandans want and need most. Proponents of the amendment could easily pass for self-seekers who are sightless to the plight of Ugandans. This is a sting project and the promoters can only be seen as individualistic and opportunistic figures who may, for all we know, be exploring their own vested interests and personal gain out of this venture.

It ain’t broken, don’t fix it!

September 01, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sept. 1, 2017

Contact: In Atlanta, Soyia Ellison, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Nairobi, Don Bisson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

NAIROBI — Following the decision issued today by Kenya’s Supreme Court, The Carter Center commends the court for conducting an open and transparent judicial process, which gave all parties the opportunity to be heard and ensured due process consistent with the constitution and laws of Kenya.

In response to an election petition challenging the results of the Aug. 8 presidential elections, the court ruled the election null and void based on irregularities and illegalities committed by the Independent Election and Boundary Commission (IEBC) in the transmission of results.

The Carter Center’s Aug. 10 preliminary statement following the election noted that election day voting and counting processes had functioned smoothly but that the electronic transmission of results proved unreliable. The statement also noted that the IEBC’s tabulation process, if fully implemented, would allow for a high level of transparency and accountability. Following the elections, the co-leaders of the Center’s mission, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former Prime Minister of Senegal Aminata Touré, publicly discussed concerns about the transmission of results and encouraged all stakeholders to cross-check results during the tallying process and to use established legal processes to address any concerns, and refrain from violence.

The Center issued another statement on Aug. 17 urging the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission to continue to collect and publish the results forms transparently, so that the overall integrity of the process could be verified.

In both statements, the Center stressed that the electoral process was not yet complete and that an overall assessment could not be given until its conclusion, including the resolution of any electoral petitions. Today’s ruling is both important and encouraging, because it highlights the independence of the Kenyan judiciary and its important role as a key institutional pillar in Kenya’s democracy.

The Center affirms the observations and conclusions in its Aug. 10 and Aug. 17 statements and notes that the Supreme Court’s ruling is focused on problems that occurred during the transmission of results that impacted its integrity, and not the voting or counting processes.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, it is incumbent on all Kenyans to accept the ruling and prepare for fresh elections. The Center urges the court to release its detailed ruling as soon as possible so that it can inform the new election process going forward, and further urges all stakeholders to support a fully transparent and peaceful process.

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Ben Spears

Program Associate, Democracy Program

The Carter Center

Atlanta, GA

(404) 614-3768

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

www.CarterCenter.org

A Critical Analysis of the Supreme Court Decisions

Fred Sekindi

Dr. Fred Sekindi is a lecturer in International Public Law and International Human Rights at Nkumba University and a consultant tutor with the African Prisons Project in Uganda email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

ABSTRACT

This article analyses the constitutional and domestic legal framework under which the president of Uganda has been elected since 1995. The focus is on the three Supreme Court decisions in the adjudication of presidential electoral disputes in 2001, 2006 and in 2016. It argues that presidential electoral laws are deficient in their capacity to facilitate fair political contestation. This is because they were not adequately constructed to address electoral malpractices pertaining to Uganda, and they have been interpreted to favour the incumbent.

Keywords: Constitution of Republic of Uganda 1995, electoral offences, presidential elections, presidential electoral laws, presidential electoral petition, Supreme Court

INTRODUCTION

The post-1995 constitutional reforms in Uganda were aimed at averting violent struggles for political power. One of these reforms was the introduction of direct presidential elections. The significance of this is that since the Constitution of 1995 came into force, and for the first time in the country’s history, the majority of Ugandans could elect their president directly. In addition, more Ugandans than before are eligible to stand for election as president. This article studies how the Supreme Court in Uganda has adjudicated presidential electoral disputes since 1995. It evaluates the efficacy of the constitutional and domestic legal framework under which the president of Uganda is elected, in protecting fair political contestation in order to achieve its objectives. This article further argues that presidential electoral laws have been constructed without attention to the electoral lawlessness prevalent in Uganda. These laws make it almost impossible to challenge the outcome of the election, particularly where the declared winner is the incumbent. Therefore, the laws are incapable of converting votes into a truly democratic choice, and are consequently unable to avert violent struggles for political power.

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At about 1:40am on the morning of Tuesday, the returning officer of Kaabong district, Sarah Iyolu, declared Rose Lilly Akello winner of the hotly contested by-election for the district’s Woman MP, stretching NRM’s victory in by-elections thus far to six. The other four of the 10 parliamentary by-elections held since the February 18, 2016 elections, have been won by two NRM-leaning independents; Hood Katuramu and William Wilson Nokrach (People with disabilities) and opposition-leaning independents; Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine, DP) in Kyadondo East and Lucy Achiro Otim, FDC, in Aruu North.

 

This string of losses by the opposition is in sharp contrast with its show of might during the 2011-2016 cycle, when opposition candidates won most of the by-elections. In Kaabong, the opposition fielded one candidate, FDC’s Judith Adyaka Nalibe, who finished last with 593 votes. A difference of only 256 votes is what NRM’s Akello needed to defeat Christine Tubo Nakwang, an NRM-leaning independent candidate. Akello garnered 21,814 votes against Nakwang’s 21,558 votes.

The seat fell vacant after the Court of Appeal upheld an earlier ruling by the High court in Soroti that nullified Nakwang’s election on grounds of voter bribery. Nakwang slaughtered a ram for a feast and bought drinks for over 100 voters on the eve of the February 18, 2016 elections, contrary to Section 68 of the Parliamentary Elections Act 2007.

DEPLOYMENTS

Unlike in areas with noticeable opposition support where security deployment was heavy, in Kaabong there was little visible security deployment. According to Crispin Kaheru, the head of Citizens’ Coalition on Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), the only visible security personnel were polling constables deployed at polling stations. “Polling officials including polling constables appeared knowledgeable about polling procedures [although] in some instances, they assisted voters to cast their vote, which is against the electoral laws,” Kaheru said. A heavy downpour disrupted counting of votes and the poor road network delayed the transmission of results from across the 19 sub-counties in the district to the tally centre at Kaabong Magistrate’s court hall. According to Kaheru, by 8:30pm, full results from only four sub-counties had been received at the tally centre. Several people gathered outside the tally centre till the wee hours of Tuesday morning when election results were announced. There was an 80 per cent voter turnout. Polling in Monday’s by-election, which has been described by observers as generally peaceful and calm, started late in some areas due to the late arrival of polling officials. There were also issues with the biometric voter verification kits especially in the rural parts of the district where a number of voters were turned away after the machines failed to read their fingerprints. At Meus polling station in Kapalata sub-county, several voters were asked to wash their hands with soap after the presiding officer, Walter Lokiru Ngole, suspected that the machine failed to read their fingerprints because of dirt. In other cases, some polling officials forgot the pin codes for the biometric voter verification kits.

NRM STRONG

At the tally centre in Kaabong, NRM electoral commission chief Tanga Odoi was at hand to receive his party’s sixth by-election victory. He told The Observer that the victory had further proved NRM’s strength. “This was a tight race between two NRM ladies and the number of votes that separated them today is what [has separated them] in the previous elections, including the party primaries,” Odoi said yesterday. There is no opposition here [Kaabong] and what the NRM needs to do is to sit with them [Akello and Nakwang] and reconcile them,” he added. According to the senior presidential press secretary, Don Wanyama, the NRM by-election victory had disproved the opposition’s claim that 2016 elections were rigged. “It is a testament of how hollow the opposition’s claims are of NRM rigging elections. The by-elections are testament that NRM is still a strong and popular party across the country,” Wanyama said. The NRM Secretariat’s communications officer, Rogers Mulindwa, said that as the party celebrates the recent achievements, it needs to work towards minimising instances that bring up independents. At least 32 of the 66 independent MPs had lost the 2015 NRM primary elections.

WEAK STRUCTURES

Internal bickering within the parties and the failure to create strong structures in the countryside is one of the factors working against the opposition. Party structures are crucial in mobilisation for a candidate as well as assembling machinery for protection of the vote on polling day. NRM boasts of structures at the village level across the country, which is not the case with opposition parties. “The by-elections have exposed a lot of internal disorganisation in the opposition; they are not on ground, they don’t have any structures and are indeed very far from taking state power,” Wanyama said. The president general of the Democratic Party (DP), Norbert Mao, said the opposition has in some instances gone into the by-elections ill-prepared. “The calibre of candidates we take to the elections is very important. Sometimes we have fielded people who are not well known, people with no connection to the community. That is what we [DP] suffered in Aruu North; we took a Kampala- based candidate who had no connection with the community,” Mao said. This could be the same case with Nalibe, the FDC candidate in Kaabong. “In some areas, it is not easy to raise a candidate. Areas like Karamoja, which are state-run areas, having a candidate there is a great achievement,” said FDC spokesman Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda. According to Ssemujju, it would be unfair to judge the opposition based on areas known to be NRM strongholds. The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winfred Kiiza, however, argues that sometimes, the opposition sees no reason of fielding candidates in an election whose outcome is predetermined. “Ugandans are seeing no reason why they should continue voting in an election that they know are already rigged. Credibility of our elections is a big issue that has demoralised voters,” Kiiza said. But Mao thinks opposition parties need to address the issues that have kept them disunited. “To a larger extent, the opposition was united [during the 2011-2016 cycle] unlike now when opposition forces are in disarray and playing into the hands of NRM,” Mao said.

Story Published by The Observer

 

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