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Uganda Opposition Groups Demand Electoral Reforms

Tension, Uncertainty as Uganda Prepares for Election

Opposition and civil society groups in Uganda have launched a “citizens for reforms now" campaign to pressure parliament to institute electoral reforms ahead of next year’s general election.

Parliamentarian Mathias Mpuga, a leading opposition member, says opponents of President Yoweri Museveni have dismissed electoral reform proposals presented to parliament by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).

Among the proposals is a call to change the name of the electoral commission.

Mpuga rejected the government's proposals as cosmetic.

“ [This is] to try and put pressure on the regime and members of parliament to make sure that they consider the kind of reform that were submitted to parliament by political party groups and civil society groups,” said Mpuga. “Their proposed bill falls short of people’s expectations and fails to capture the reforms that can give the country a free fair and credible election we had demanded. It’s the reason why we strongly rejected the government’s proposals,” he added.

Mpuga said opposition demands will give voters confidence.

“We want a restructuring of the electoral commission by changing its appointment process, composition and strengthening its independence. We want an amendment to the electoral laws pertaining to the voting tallying and transmission of election results from the polling stations to the national tally center,” he said.

“We had wanted the restraining of the role of the security forces such as the army and the police during elections, and of course protecting public funds from abuse during elections by the government. We also want to make sure that there is a review of the role of the media during elections to ensure that there is equal access to media houses to all political players and enhance media impartiality.”

Jotham Taremwa, spokesman for the Electoral Commission of Uganda recently told VOA the electoral body would be using a biometric system to update its voters register ahead of next year’s vote.

He said the new biometric measures will prevent voter irregularities and rigging during polling. Taremwa also denied accusations that the electoral commission shows bias and favoritism to candidates of the ruling NRM.

But, Mpuga says the voters list needs a complete overhaul.

“One of the things we want changed is the manner in which the voters register is constituted to make sure that its integrity is enhanced,” said Mpuga. “The kind of biometric date the electoral commission [official] is talking about is not his job it is somebody’s job. They are simply picking data from, which data cannot be relied upon because those data was not mandated for the purposes of an election.”

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