19th February 2018

Your Excellency,

We write this letter with a profound appreciation that this year government plans to conduct elections in the six newly created districts of: Nabilatuk, Bugweri, Kwani, Kapelebyong, Kasanda, and Kikuube; elections will also be conducted to fill vacancies in about 264 of the 1,403 sub counties in Uganda. Other elections envisaged include: Parliamentary and Local Government by-elections, as well as possible Local Council I and II elections alongside the possibility of a National referendum. In order to deliver a cost-effective and democratic electoral process that will enlist the confidence of the wananchi to participate unimpeded in the different electoral processes, electoral reforms are a must. Your Excellency, we want to believe that it is because you clearly understand the importance of progressive political reforms that you rightly campaigned on the platform of instituting a constitutional review process.

A man casts his vote in the recent Ruhaama By-election.

Under chapter II of your 2016 – 2021 manifesto, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) commits to uphold the principle of democracy where citizens directly participate in regular, free and fair elections. Correspondingly, NRM has situated itself as the trustee and principal guarantor of vision 2040 in which the need for democracy is recognized as the anchor to transform Uganda. Vision 2040 states that, government will inter alia, enhance the legal and regulatory framework covering the electoral process. In line with these commitments, the second National Development Plan (NDP II) recognises that without free and fair political and electoral processes, key development objectives cannot be achieved. To this end, the NDP II proposes to “enact laws to strengthen credibility of electoral processes in Uganda and citizen participation in the electoral process”.

Your Excellency, we recognise that following the enactment of the 1995 Constitution, Uganda has held regular elections during the set constitutional time frames – every five years. Yet, since 2001, general elections in Uganda have ended in controversy. The 2001, 2006 and 2016 presidential elections culminated in court disputes while in 2011, elections ended in violent public demonstrations. Despite your policy direction, concerns about your government’s commitment towards a transparent and accountable electoral framework persist. Since 2001, election observers, political organisations, civil society organisations and private individuals have proposed electoral and constitutional reforms that would guarantee credible, free and fairer elections in Uganda.

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