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Uganda Electoral Commission Issues Final Voters List to Candidates

FILE – Voters line up at a polling station in Kampala, Uganda, in February 2011, as they wait to cast their ballot.
FILE – Voters line up at a polling station in Kampala, Uganda, in February 2011, as they wait to cast their ballot.

The electoral commission of Uganda has issued the final voters list for next year's general election to all participating presidential candidates and their parties.

The country's electoral law demands the electoral commission present an electronic copy of the voters list to the parties and their candidates after the nomination process.

Two weeks before the presidential, parliamentary and local elections, the law requires the electoral commission to issue a paper copy, also called a hard copy, to the candidates.

Electoral commission spokesman Jotham Taremwa says the electoral body has been proactive in ensuring transparency by handing over the hard copy of the list to the candidates and the parties ahead of the required time.

"This time, the commission did not wait for those two weeks before polling and we have already issued the hard copies of the national voters register to the participating presidential candidates," Taremwa said.

"This time round the presidential candidates know who is going to vote and how many are going to vote, and so they won't come up with an excuse of saying there are people who voted who were not supposed to vote. That's why we gave them those registers."

Taremwa insists the final voters register is credible, despite concerns by opposition and civil society groups that the process was flawed. The parties and groups have demanded the process be scrapped and begun afresh.

The electoral commission, however, maintains that prospective voters were given the opportunity to check their information before the final list was compiled.

"Those allegations will always come up,” Taremwa said. “But they are baseless. Because you know when we registered, we sent this register back in the field and called upon every other person to come verify, identify and authenticate it. … We got some recommendations as to who to exclude, who we should include — and all those we cleaned up.

“And so the final copy that is out is the verifiable copy of the national voters register. So, I don't expect anybody to raise those types of allegations.”

Parliamentary campaigns suspended

Meanwhile, the electoral commission has suspended all parliamentary campaigns until next week after Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of parliament, petitioned the electoral commission for a postponement.

In her petition, Kadaga said she wants all parliamentarians to be in parliament from December 15 to December 23 to vote on important national legislation that require a full house.

"In order to ensure there is a level playing field, we could not allow the other contenders who are not members of parliament to continue campaigning when the members of parliament are back in the house legislating," Taremwa said.

"So we decided to put the campaigns on hold until after the 23rd when these ones are also done with the parliamentary duties,” he added. “Then, after that, they can go back in the field and meet their colleagues there and resume their campaign."