The Electoral Commission of Uganda will use a biometric system - a system that uses human body characteristics to determine identity - to update its voters register ahead of next year’s general election, says Electoral Commission spokesman Jotham Taremwa.
Denying reports that the electoral commission lacks funds needed to organize the elections within the next 10 months, Taremwa says the electoral body needs about $90,000,000 to organize the elections. The government has disbursed $67,000,000 but has yet to release the rest of the funds.
Some opposition politicians expressed worry that the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) could use the lack of funds to rig the election to ensure incumbent President Yoweri Museveni wins the presidential vote.
Taremwa disagreed. He says he is assured that the administration in Kampala will release the rest of the funds the commission needs to organize the vote.
“I am very confident that government will give us this money, and we will organize these elections. When we launched our roadmap, we requested funding in three different financial years,” said Taremwa.
“So, each financial year, we outline the key activities we will be undertaking in preparation for the general election. Throughout the process and the period, government has been giving us that money, and we are hopeful government will give us the top up and we hold the elections. Nobody should get worried about no holding elections,” he added.
Opposition political parties are demanding electoral reforms after accusing the electoral commission of bias and favoritism to candidates of the ruling NRM. They are also demanding a complete overhaul of the electoral register used for the elections.
Taremwa denied the accusations. He says the electoral commission will implement new measures to prevent voter irregularities and possible rigging in the next election.
“We are in the process of updating the voters register. So what we did was that the country recently did the enrollment of its citizens for purposes of issuances of National ID [Identification] and we started with 16 years and above and the reason was those who were 16 years and above by 2016 they would be 18 years,” said Taremwa.
“So, we have corrected the biometric data from the data bank from that registration exercise. And it is that data that we have put out there to make sure that people ascertain and more so register new people who are not on the register, to get a newly updated register that reflects the exact number of the voters in the country,” he added.
Taremwa says the electoral commission aims to implement the new biometric measures to prevent voter irregularities and rigging during polling.
“Ugandans should be very confident... It won’t be possible for anybody to vote twice, where it won’t be easy for anybody to impersonate another voter," he said. "So, we hope to get a clean voting process because of the biometric voters register. I think Ugandans should be proud of that rather than worry.”