The by-election held on May 31st 2018 was a result of Court of Appeal nullifying the 2016 election of NRM’s Winfred Matsiko on grounds of voter bribery.
To track the day’s activities, CCEDU deployed a team of 27 stationary and mobile observers who sampled 67 out of the 270 polling stations in all the 16 Sub Counties that comprise Rukungiri district.
Preliminary findings of the observation team were:
Opening of the Poll:
In an unprecedented move to ensure that polling materials arrive at the polling stations in time, the Electoral Commission dispatched materials to the furthest four (4) sub counties of Bikurungu Town Council, Nyakishenyi Sub-county, Bwambara Sub-county and Nyarushanje Sub-county on 30st May 2018 at 7:00pm. The rest of the polling materials were dispatched to the remaining 12 Sub Counties between 4:00am and 7:00am on the polling day (May 31, 2018). Despite EC’s resolve to have polling stations open in time, some of the polling stations, especially those around Rukungiri town received polling material as late as 8.00am. Rukungiri stadium, Rwakabengo Health Centre3, are some of the polling stations that delayed to commence voting due to late receipt of polling materials.
Former presidential candidate Dr. Kiiza Besigye interracts with CCEDU Observers after casting his vote on 31st May 2018 in Rukungiri District
CCEDU also observed that at some polling stations, the mandatory 5 voters required to allow for the opening of a polling station were not present. Polling stations such as Kinyasano Cathedral Polling station in Western Division voting delayed to start due to lack of the 5 mandatory voters required to commence polling.
Issued: May 29, 2018| 1:00pm
Introduction: Given its broad mandate of realizing a Uganda where the principles and practices of electoral democracy are upheld, the Citizen’s Coalition For Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) will observe the Rukungiri Women MP, by-election slated for May 31. As a means of enhancing citizen participation in Uganda’s electoral processes, CCEDU is today, May 29, conducting the training of its 30 observers at Riverside Hotel Rukungiri. CCEDU is in Rukungiri to mobilize citizens to show up in large numbers and participate in the by-election. Since its establishment, CCEDU has been a leading player in advocacy for electoral reforms, observation of general and by-elections and civic/voter education campaigns.
Electoral Details: Rukungiri district is made up of three constituencies namely; Rubabo, Rujumbura and Rukungiri Municipality. 12 sub-counties namely: Buyanja, Kebisoni, Nyakishenyi, Nyarushanje, Bugangari, Buhunga, Bwambara, Nyakagyeme, Ruhinda, Eastern division, Southern division and Western division. The district has 77 parishes and 276 polling stations. In the race are four candidates namely: Winifred Matsiko (NRM), Betty Muzanira (FDC), Fabith Kukundakwe (PPP), Prisca Sezi Mbaguta (independent) and two candidates opted out.
The CCEDU election Observation Team already in Rukungiri for the #RukungiriByElection
CCEDU Communication Plan for the By-election: To fulfill our mandate of promoting electoral democracy in Uganda, CCEDU will closely observe the processes of the by-election through 20 short-term observers who will be stationed at particular polling centers. In addition, CCEDU will have ten roving observers, so as to give a balanced picture of the election. CCEDU will be assisted by its robust membership infrastructure in Rukungiri and Kabale.
- As a body mandated with realizing the principles and practices of electoral democracy our core audience are the voters and the citizens. CCEDU urges all those who will participate in the election to ensure they have all the requirements to participate ahead of the by-election. We also urge voters to turn up in large numbers and vote for a candidate of their choice.
- For effective messaging, through-out E-day, CCEDU will post captioned pictures on its website, facebook and tweeter accounts so as to keep the voter’s and the country abreast with the processes in the Rukungiri by-election.
- CCEDU will also report about the various stages of the electoral process namely: opening and set-up, polling, counting and tallying.
Conclusion: The conduct of elections in Uganda is guided by the 1995 Constitution of Uganda, the Parliamentary Elections Act and the Electoral Commission Act and CCEDU will observe the Rukungiri Women MP by-election in relation to these pieces of legislation, to gauge if the election is conducted within the precincts of the law.
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 Fax: +256-414-510498 or Dr Livingstone Sewanyana: 0752 791963
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 3, 2018
SOLIDARITY MESSAGE ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY
Freedom of expression including the media is the cornerstone of any democracy. The right to information and the right to access such information is vital for the growth of society, no less the Ugandan society. As the world commemorates the World Press Freedom Day, the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative recognizes the efforts of the Ugandan media, who, against all odds have been at the forefront in the struggle for respect for human rights, democracy and rule of law in Uganda.
Participants of the World Press Freedom Day celebrations at the Railway Grounds in Kampala on 3rd May 2018.
We invite the government of Uganda and her agencies to uphold the freedom of media, create an enabling environment for journalists to report without unnecessary harassment, intimidation and fear of reprisals. Law enforcement agencies in particular should desist from making unwarranted attacks against media personnel-reporters, editors, media proprietors in whatever form. Beatings, confiscation of cameras, denial of access, arbitrary arrests of journalists should be a thing of the past. Journalists should also report objectively and professionally taking great care not to injure the reputation and privacy of others. We salute our media for being brave and keeping Ugandans informed. Together we stand for Media Freedom in Uganda.
Game Changers (GCs) is a unique loose network of dynamic Ugandan civil society activists, passionate about innovative advocacy ideas on human rights, democracy and good governance. The network provides a platform for promoting synergy, cooperation, collaboration and sharing of best practices among civil society activists in Uganda to enhance their advocacy abilities in the ever shrinking operating environment. Under their given mandate, the group would like to issue a statement on the second anniversary of the Supreme Court Ruling of the Presidential Elections Petition2016 as follows;
On February 19th2018, the Citizen’s Coalition on Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) wrote to President YoweriKaguta Museveni an open letter highlighting the need for political and electoral reforms before the next general elections. CCEDU implored the President toestablish an independent Constitutional Review process whose findings should be implemented before the next general elections. CCEDU also implored the President to launch a National Dialogue process that would provide Ugandans with a platform to dialogue about the issues that have affected their livelihood for the last 55 years since independence.
The reforms broadly target seven(7) pieces of legislation: the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995; the Presidential Elections Act 2005;the Parliamentary Elections Act 2001; the Electoral Commission Act 2005; the Local Governments Act1997; the National Youth Council Act 1993; and the Public Order Management Act 2013.
The Supreme Court on March 30th 2016 made a ruling on the Presidential Election Petition No.1 of 2016 (AmamaMbabazi v Museveni&Ors) and acknowledged electoral reforms as a prerequisite for free and fair elections in Uganda. The Supreme Court tasked the Attorney General to follow up the recommendations made by the Court with the other organs of the State, namely Parliament and the Executive and report back to the Court after two years. It is expected that in August 2018, the two years will elapse. Only four months are left to the expiry of the time the Court gave the Attorney General, but he has not updated the public on the progress of the much expected recommendations.
The Supreme Court Justices recognized that from previous electoral petitions (10 years) they had been making recommendations to improve electoral processes, but the Government has not taken interest in implementing any of their recommendations. As a result, the Supreme Court made 10 reforms in the area of elections generally and Presidential elections in particular.
In 2016, the Justicesrecognized that many of the calls for Electoral reforms had remained unanswered by the Executive and the Legislature. At the hearing of the 2016 Electoral Petition, the Justices allowed a group of 15 prominent Constitutional scholars from MakerereUniversity, Kampala to participate in the case as amici curiae. The dons presented to the Justices issues that had made it practically impossible to hold free and fair elections in Uganda and the Court considered these proposals. Based on the dons’ considerations and the issues raised in the Election Petition No.1 of 2016 (AmamaMbabazi v Museveni&Ors), the Supreme Court made the following recommendations:
1) The Time for filing and determination of the petition: The Justices recommended that the period be reviewed and necessary amendments be made to the law to increase the days of listening and winding up the petition from 30 days to at least 60 days to give Court sufficient time to prepare, present, hear and determine the petition.
2) The nature of evidence: The Justices recognized that the use of affidavit evidence in presidential election petitions is necessary; however on its own may be unreliable as many witnesses tend to be partisan. The justices recommendedRules amendment to provide for the use of oral evidence in addition to affidavit evidence with leave of court.
3) The time for holding fresh elections:The Court concluded that it was difficult to require the Independent Electoral Commission to hold a free and fair election within the 20 days currently stipulated in the 1995 Constitution, after another has been nullified. A longer and more realistic time frame should be put in place.
4) The Use of technology: While the introduction of technology in the election process should be encouraged, the Supreme Court recommended that a law to regulate the use of technology in the conduct and management of elections should be enactedwithin time to train the officials and sensitize voters and other stakeholders.
5) Unequal use of State owned media: Both the Constitution in Article 67 (3) and the Presidential Elections Act, 2000 in section 24 (1), provide that all presidential candidates shall be given equal time and space on State owned media. The Court recommended that the electoral law should be amended to provide for sanctions against any State organ or officer who violates this Constitutional duty.
6) The late enactment of relevant legislation:We recommend that any election related law reform be undertaken within two years of the establishment of the new Parliament in order to avoid last minute hastily enacted legislation on elections.
7) Donations during election period: Section 64(9) of the Presidential Elections Act, 2000should be amended to prohibit the giving of donations by all candidates including a President who is also a candidate, in order to create a level playing field for all.
8) Involvement of public officers in political campaigns: The law should make it explicit that public servants are prohibited from involvement in political campaigns.
9) The role of the Attorney General in election petitions: The Attorney General is the principal legal advisor of Government as per Article 119 of the Constitution. Rule 5 and 25 of the Presidential Elections (Elections Petitions) Rules,2001 require the Attorney General to be served with the petition. However, the definition of “respondent” in Rule 3 of the Presidential Elections (Elections Petitions) Rules as it currently is, does not include the Attorney General as a possible Respondent. Further, Rule 20(6) of the Presidential Elections (Elections Petitions) Rules, provides that even when a Petitioner wants to withdraw a petition, the Attorney General can object to the withdrawal. The law should be amended to make it permissible for the Attorney General to be made Respondent where necessary.
10) Implementation of recommendations by the Supreme Court:The Justices noted that most of the recommendations for reform made by theSupreme Court in the previous presidential election petitions have remained largely unimplemented. It may well be that no authority was identified to follow up their implementation. Therefore, The Court ordered as follows; “the Attorney General must follow up the recommendations made by this Court with the other organs of State, namely Parliament and the Executive”.
Whereas theHonorable Justices made their recommendations,the mandate to call for a Constitutional Review Process lies with the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs. Other state organs such as Parliament and the Executive have to enact the necessary laws to improve electoral processes.
On behalf of all Ugandans, we, implore the following institutions as follows;
1. The Attorney general: To update the public on progress made by the state in implementing the Supreme Court Recommendations, since, they are a matter of public Interest.
2. The Parliament: To cooperate with all stakeholders in ensuring that the necessary legislation on use of technology, proposed electoral reform amendments among others is expedited and passed in time before the next elections.
3. The Executive: To support the Judiciary and Parliament and other agencies to ensure citizens’ demands for electoral reforms are responded to and expedited without jeopardizing their (other state organs) independence.
To track the progress being made with regard to enacting reforms recommended by the Supreme Court, the Game Changers will embark on a protracted advocacy campaign that will mainly focus on two areas of the Supreme Court ruling;
1)The use of technology in elections and 2)Involvement of public officers in political campaigns.
We believe that technology is an integral tool which, when implemented properly, will broaden franchise, modernize elections, but most importantly cut the alarming election costs and increase transparency of the electoral process for citizens.
We implore citizensto join hands with us in demanding that the Government takes the necessary steps to implement the stipulated recommendations with a view of improving electoral processes in the desire for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic Uganda;
For God and My Country
Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, has been appointed the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order by the UN Human Rights Council. The mandate will require Dr Sewanyana to examine the states on their democratic and development practices and submit a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and the UN General assembly in New York on an annual basis. The examination will detail the performances of states and make recommendations on the necessary improvements.
Dr Livingstone Sewanyna with Dr Paul Kawanga Semwogerere at the 20th Graduation ceremony of Nkozi University on 16th March 2018
A seasoned human rights advocate, Dr. Sewanyana has spent 27 years fighting for the rights of others. It is no surprise, that last year he scooped the national and Regional awards for “Welfare and Civil Society category ” , he later won the continental award, organized by CEO Global TITANS on 22nd September 2017 at Kampala Serena Hotel and South Africa respectively. TITANS are people who build the nation and are recognized for their contribution to nation building. Titans are meant to inspire young people to participate in meaningful ventures that build their nations.
“Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana has speared headed a number of interventions locally and at regional level such as the campaign against the abolition against the death penalty in Uganda and the East African region. He has been at the centre of promoting electoral democracy in Uganda and in 2016 he was the chairperson of the biggest domestic election observers’ network CEON-U, that brought together 23 civil society organizations,” said Memory Bandera Director Programmes and Administrator, Defend Defenders.