Civil Society Organization, Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CEEDU) wants government to develop a temporary legislation to strike a balance between political and health rights of stakeholders in the 2021 general election.

The new development came out of a stakeholder meeting between the parliamentary committee on Legal affairs and CCEDU, over the election roadmap which was recently released by the Electoral Commission (EC) ahead of the 2021 elections. The meeting was held in parliament on Thursday.

According to the Mrs. Charity Ahimbisibwe, the Coordinator CCEDU, the roadmap which was released by the Electoral Commission, contradicts almost all electoral laws in Uganda and as such, a special legislation is required to harmonize the existing laws with the proposals in the revised roadmap.

The revised roadmap which is meant to cater for disruptions due to the covid-19 pandemic has however generated public debate with stakeholders questioning it’s legality, fairness and exclusivity it offers.

 

In a document presented to the committee, CCEDU says that government should develop a ‘Special Arrangements Bill” aiming to ensure the safety of voters but also to safeguard political rights of stakeholders in the 2021 elections.

Charity said, the bill has to look at all the regulations that govern elections including the Presidential Elections Act, Parliamentary Elections Act, Political Parties Organizations Act, Electoral Commission Act, the Public Order Management Act and the Penal Code, to align them with the prevailing situation of the covid-19 pandemic.

However, CCEDU underscored the need to emphasize that the developed bill will from the beginning, be legal and sufficient only for the upcoming elections and do not suffice beyond 2021, since the situation could change.

Alternatively, CCEDU says, the comprehensive guidelines being developed by the Electoral Commission could be compressed into a legal instrument, presented to parliament and given a force of law to govern the forthcoming elections.

CCEDU says, without such an arrangement, the election roadmap in its current form, may lead to gross violation of rights of citizens. They also say, the credibility of the 2021 election is at risk.

CCEDU also suggest urgent need for civic education aiming at promoting civic participation and engagement in the forthcoming elections. They say that the limited time allotted to crucial electoral activities is likely to infringe on rights of Ugandans.

They also propose a review on certain legislation including the Computer Misuse Act and the UCC Act which they claim empower government to determine what citizens post on social media and likely to curtail some individuals access to information and media space.