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Uganda Electoral Commission Warns Parties to Stick to Rules

FILE - Uganda's former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, now a presidential candidate, speaks to the media at a gathering in Jinja town in eastern Uganda, Sept. 10, 2015.

The electoral commission of Uganda has warned political parties and their presidential candidates to stick to rules in the recently signed memorandum of understanding that requires them to end their daily campaigns at 6 p.m. local time or face consequences.

Electoral commission spokesman Jotham Taremwa said the electoral body was pleased with the conduct of the campaigns so far but warned that parties and their candidates could face sanctions if they continued to flout stipulations they agreed to abide by.

His comments came after officials of the electoral commission monitoring the campaigns said some of the parties were campaigning after 6 p.m., which the officials say flouts the accord they signed.

"So far we are pleased with the presidential campaign, apart from receiving some reports that some of the candidates were not sticking to the 6 o'clock closing time for their rallies," Taremwa said. "But we issued a statement, and since then we haven’t gotten reports of that kind. So, so far, so good.”

Meanwhile, the electoral commission has suspended the nomination process for the lord mayor position for the capital, Kampala.

Officials said the electoral commission made the decision because Frank Tumwebaze, minister for Kampala, had yet to present to the commission the guidelines on how the election in the city should be administered as enshrined in the Kampala Capital City Authority Electoral Act.

The nomination process for lord mayor was set for November 16-20, but Erias Lukwago, the incumbent lord mayor and a prominent opposition leader, accused the electoral commission of colluding with President Yoweri Museveni and his ruling National Resistance Movement party to deprive residents of Kampala of the constitutional right to choose their leaders.

Lukwago and his supporters threatened to picket the commission offices next week to demand that the electoral body accept his nomination forms.

Local media quoted Lukwago as saying, “Whatever [the electoral commission] is saying is idle talk. ... The program was released, indicating that we are going to be nominated from November 16 to November 20 and gazetted.”

But Taremwa denied the electoral commission was doing the bidding of the president and the NRM. He said the electoral body was duty-bound to implement the law in order to organize the Kampala vote, and "we haven’t received a copy of those regulations" pertaining to the city election.

"Therefore, our hands are tied," he said. "We cannot proceed to organize elections without regulations. As soon as those regulations have been tabled in parliament and we are served with a copy, we will announce the program for nomination for the lord mayor of Kampala.”