Kabarole NRM Secretary Yaquub Gowan, speaks to participants at Hilton Inn, Resort - Fort Portal.
The people of Tooro in Fort portal town have called on the Government to respect their right to vote by revisiting the method of lining up to elect Lc1 and LC2 leaders under a multi-party system. The people said the method of lining up contravenes their right to vote in secrecy and will keep many people away from the polls.
“If we have to vote by lining up, the system will not protect my wife’s right to vote without facing immediate repercussions,” said John Sebagala former LC1 chairman of Arikoto.
Joseph Manyindo the LC 3 chairman of Fort Portal said: “In a multiparty system, why should we line up to vote? That method in my belief is restricted to the Movement system. If the government doesn’t have money, we can improvise locally. We can use ordinary boxes as ballot boxes and ask people to write down the names of their preferred candidates of choice.”
CCEDU Member Moses Kajangu, (left )presides over the meeting alongside CCEDU election Observation head, Ivan Mwaka. (extreme left)
Sebagala said if the Government does not change a bad law then it means the views of the citizens are not important and yet the constitution of Uganda says power belongs to the people.
This was during the Citizen’s Coalition For Electoral Democracy (CCEDU), second consultative meeting held at Hilton Tours Inn in Fort portal town, on February 24, 2016.
The meeting which attracted over 100 participants was convened to discuss the Local Government Act which was passed in 2014 providing for lining up behind candidates during elections of chairpersons for village (LC1) and parish (LC2) levels.
Notable among the participants were Joseph Mayindo, LC 3 Chairperson of Fort Portal; John Mushemeregwa, Kabarole NRM District Chairman; Nyakato Rusoke, Kabarole District FDC Chairperson; Deo Natukunda, EC Supervisor of the Rwenzori region; Edward, Officer in Charge of Electoral Crimes (Uganda Police), Kabarole District; The Political assistant of the Minister of Defence; Gowana, Kabarole NRM District Secretary; The District Security Officer (who represented the RDC); and a number of LC Chairpersons.
“The law under discussion was passed without consulting the people and CCEDU is convinced that if people are consulted and they reject this law, then the Government should grant the will of the people by revisiting the law,” said Moses Kajangu.
Participants deliver their remarks at the February 25th consultation, over 70 of them attended the event.
The Kabarole FDC Chairperson Nyakato Rusoke said: “Ugandans must do better. The NRM government should treat these LC Elections with the seriousness that they deserve. We were not even consulted by our Members of Parliament on this issue when it was on the floor of the house. It was a law passed under the cover of darkness and in bad faith. Since we have a chance with CCEDU to repeal it, we should do just that.”
The Rwenzori Region Supervisor of the Electoral Commission said:“I am familiar with the work of CCEDU and I must say they are a friend of the people. This advocacy exercise they are carrying out, however, is too little too late I fear.
Preparations for these elections are already in high gear and anytime from now, maybe even next week, the ministry of finance will release the funds to us and we shall produce a roadmap. This means the elections might even be held two months from today.
It is, therefore, my prayer that as they go about, they should encourage people to turn up in large numbers and vote, irrespective of the method to be employed come polling day.”
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.
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 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.
The issues at hand
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.
This news story was first published here.
By Eddie Ssemakula.
Civil society body, Citizens Coalition for electoral democracy, (CCEDU) has kicked off a public consultation drive in response to the imminent Local Council elections.
The drive, intends to append citizen signatures to support a forthcoming legal petition, which will challenge the law under which LC 1&2 elections are held.
CCEDU Coordinator, Crispy Kaheru, makes remarks at the February 17th event.
Speaking at the meeting in Ntale village, Kalungu District, CCEDU executive chairman, Livingstone Ssewanyana emphasized the two options of secret ballot and lining up, noting.
“There are divergences in opinion, but in our current political dispensation, it’s important to adopt a voting system that allows people to vote freely, without bias, influence, with harmonized voices, which brings us to the question, should we actually hold these elections, will lining up deliver a credible free and fair vote?” The meeting attended by religious leaders and other local council leaders.
Sebandeke Ahmed, 75, remarked, "Lining up will cause domestic violence, this generation of voters is not as emotionally stable as past generations.
Rev John Nyombi decried the proposed method of lining up emphasizing, “I cannot attempt to vote by lining up, as a Reverend you have already sidelined me with such methodology”
Residents listen in at Ntale village, Kalungu, a considerable number appended their signatures to the petition.
Kalungu Electoral Commission representative, Edmond Misango, called upon residents already mobilising electorate to suspend their activities until the Commission makes it’s position clear.
Other dissenting voices emphasised the importance of Local Council Elections highlighting their urgency considering it’s been 15 years without any.
A participant puts pen to paper, CCEDU intends to append various citizen signatures to the forthcoming legal petition.
The meeting also featured remarks from CCEDU Coordinator Crispy Kaheru, and project associate Faridah Lule among others.
Up until now, Uganda Government has gone back and forth concerning the tentative dates for LC1&2 Elections.
CCEDU continues their countrywide consultation effort that will take them in Fort portal on 24th March and consequently Busia and Arua Districts.
21st February 2017
CCEDU is inviting qualified consultants to bid for conducting a rapid institutional analysis with a view of developing “CCEDU statutes”. Interested individuals or firms must provide information confirming their qualification for the task. This should include, among others:
+ A technical and financial proposal;
+ Detailed CVs of the consultant(s) to be involved in the assignment;
+ References of previous and related assignment including contact details of the respective clients.
The detailed terms of reference are herewith attached.
Expressions of interest must be hand delivered to the address below, no later than 17:30 hours (East African Time) on March 3, 2017. All bid envelopes must indicate the following reference:
Contract ref. No.: FHRI/CCEDU/2017/01/I.A
Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral
Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) Democracy House
Plot 1111 Lulume Road Nsambya
P.O. Box 11027 Kampala, Uganda
Tel: +256 794 444 410
Mob: +256 794 444 401 or +256 772 332 747
Web site: http://www.ccedu.org.ug
Through the Legal Lenses:
1. LC I and II elections were last conducted by way of lining-up in 2001 under the “movement system” of government since 2005, Uganda is under a multiparty system of government;
2. Article 1 (4) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda directs that people exercise their electoral choices through regular, free and fair elections;
3. Article 68 (1) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda sets a standard for voting at elections and referenda – secret ballot;
4. Article 21 (3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) entreats member states to convene genuine elections held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures;
5. Article 25(b) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) implores member states to convene periodic elections held by secret ballot;
6. International electoral standards demand that ALL public elections adhere to three (3) fundamental principles of: Confidentiality: safeguard voter’s freedom of thought and other beliefs; Anonymity: safeguard freedom of opinion of a voter; Individuality: uphold an environment in which a voter is able to make an individual choice.
Through the Social Lenses:
Lining up as a method of voting will:
7. Undermine social cohesion within and among communities
8. Make it easy for the elected LCs to identify those voters who did not elect them and deny them services as a way of retaliation or retribution;
9. Disenfranchise the election administrators – how will the polling officials vote and still remain impartial arbiters of the same election?
10. Compromise the participation of society/community leaders, such as traditional and cultural leaders, religious leaders, security personnel and other eminent persons who under the law or by the virtue of their office or status in society are supposed to be seen as not only impartial but also independent and unbiased in their professional and personal conduct. Through the political Lenses:
11. There is a strong likelihood that people may vote – to be “politically correct” and not vote for their genuine choices. The possibilities of people voting for the prevailing administration under an open voting system remain high.
Lining-up to vote not only fails to meet the minimum acceptable standards for conducting free and fair democratic elections, but is also fertile ground to incite conflict and sow seeds of discord in communities.
Say NO to lining-up, say YES to secret ballot!