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Ugandan Supreme Court Justice Questions Re-hiring of Election Commission Chair

Ugandan Supreme Court Justice George Kanyeihamba has criticized as premature the re-appointment of Badru Kiggunda as chairman of the country’s Electoral Commission.

Kiggunda and his commission were criticized by the opposition for their handling of the 2006 presidential elections, which the opposition said were rigged in favor of President Yoweri Museveni.

Justice Kanyeihamba said the Electoral Commission under Kiggundu failed to implement the recommendations of the Supreme Court.

“They have not shown any inclination to adopt the recommendations made by the various courts that have made decisions on our electoral defects. We have adequate laws; what we need is enforcement of the present constitutional provisions and all the laws enacted by the parliament,” he said.

Kanyeihamba said it was unfortunate that the electoral commission ignored the many electoral reforms recommended by the Supreme Court.

"The most glaring were, the Court found that the constitution had not been obeyed, the candidates or their agents had blatantly committed electoral offenses, but the members of the Electoral Commission, obviously including the chairman had more or less looked the other way and they proceeded as if everything was in order,” Kanyeihamba said.

He said the re-hiring of Kiggunda as chair of the Electoral Commission was premature because he overlooked the offenses committed in order to advance the election of certain candidates.

“We need an electoral commission and a membership which is respected by the community. I believe the current commission has lost favor with the population as a whole,” Kanyeihamba said.

Kiggunda told VOA earlier this week he had advanced a number of electoral reforms that are pending the approval of the Ugandan government.

But Kanyeihamba said the bulk of Uganda’s current electoral laws are adequate. The problem, he said, is the Electoral Commission’s failure to implement them.

"You should have asked him (Kiggunda) the court has handed the following: For example, that you (Kiggunda) favored candidates against others; that the incumbent administration has a lion’s share of the press in Uganda when the law says it should be equal time given to opponents and government candidates alike. Why haven’t you done that?” Kanyeihamba said.

Kiggunda also denied earlier this week that his commission rigged the 2006 elections in favor of President Museveni, saying he has acted ethically in all the elections he conducted.

Kanyeihamba rejected Kiggunda’s claims and said the Supreme Court had found that the Electoral Commission did not comply with the constitution.