By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho
The Uganda Independent Electoral Commission [IEC] of Uganda has this week asked government to provide more funds to enable it conduct elections in newly created constituencies.
Addressing the media in Kampala the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission Justice Simon Byabakama said that the creation of constituencies, municipalities, town councils and sub counties by Government means that they have to carry out elections in those new areas which require substantial amounts of money than what had been budgeted for.
Initially, “the Independent Electoral Commission of Uganda had requested for 796 billion shillings to conduct 2021 elections. Government of Uganda ably provided about 640 billion. But this was before the coming of the coronavirus (COVID-19) whose prevention measures require a lot of sanitary facilities and strict observance of SOPs that is an issue of challenge in this electoral period the country id preparing to undertake”.Byabakama said.
Last week the parliament of wrote to Electoral commission informing the later about the approved 46 new constituencies, 10 new cities, one new district and five Parliamentary seats for older persons and that that development will bring the number of MPs to 513 in the 11th parliament.
In addition, government also created another 168 new town councils or sub counties which all require the Electoral Commission to organize elections there.
“For purposes of absorbing the above new creations into the general elections 2020/2021, the Electoral Commission has had to make revisions to the electoral roadmap to provide for the demarcation of Local government electoral areas and reorganization of polling stations in the affected parishes or wards in the 168 new town councils and sub counties located in various parts of Uganda,” said Byabakama.
He added that now the nominations of candidates for local government council elections has changed from the earlier dates of between September 7-17th September, to the current date of between 21st September and 1st October.
Justice Simon Byabakama raised concerns over some politicians who have started violating the standard operating procedures that the Ministry of Health and the commission itself issued in regards to public campaigns and procession. He said that the Commission he leads strongly condemns this kind of conduct which he said is putting the lives of Ugandans at the risk of contracting COVID-19.
Justice Simon Byabakama said, the EC has learnt from the media about some of the politicians from the National Resistance Movement [NRM] such as Evelyn Anite, the state minister for privatization, Ephraim Kamuntu, the Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Jane Ruth Aceng, the health minister among others were videotaped conducting mass compaigns or processions without regard to social distance or using masks.
“As guided, candidates may organize or hold regulated campaign meetings. Conveners of such meetings and venue owners must ensure that public health safety measures and guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19 are observed. Hence we advise that such meeting venues should be preferably outdoor to enable the observance of the social distancing of at least two meters apart for the persons attending the meeting or campaigns,” said Byabakama.
He however added that the fact that they allowed the police to ensure that political players are complaint with the guidelines is not a carte blanche for them to allow or disallow political meetings. He implored political players to always inform them whenever they face obstacles from the police.