Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon, the Chairperson, Electoral Commission has released statement hours after court blocked Women Council elections due today (Tuesday) and the follow up Local Council I vote slated for next week after more than 15 years of waiting.
“The Commission appeals to political parties and organisations, candidates, agents and supporters, and all other stakeholders in these elections to remain calm as the matters are being handled by the High Court,” said Justice Byamukama in a statement following the Monday court order.
An application by concerned citizen, Mr James Tweheyo challenging the elections in the absence of Advanced Secondary School students who are currently sitting their examinations until December 8.
The express order followed an earlier one issued by a similar court in Jinja in a case of a student, Allan Alibwani against EC challenging the same exercise.
Justice Byabakama added on Tuesday that: “Similarly, the electoral programme for election of Administrative Units (LC I & LC II) is suspended.”
“Any further steps by the Commission on the above electoral activities will be determined by the outcome of the Court process, of which the public will be informed.
Due to financial constraints and misplaced priorities, the government has never held the elections although the Local Councils continue operating illegally to-date. Uganda has at least 7,431 parishes and 59,315 villages in 1403 sub-counties. Each village will be a polling station.
The court orders now shade more light on the alleged poor planning and independency at the Electoral Commission as Uganda’s political scene is shrouded in debate and mess caused by the issue of whether to remove the presidential age limit from the Constitution and allow President Museveni to contest forever or, as many have opined, to cement a second life presidency in Uganda’s Constitution.
Political analysts have been questioning whether Justice Byabakama’s EC that is already caught up in the pro and anti-age limit drama, has the capacity to seamlessly hold the Local Council elections in a free and fair manner ahead of 2021.
There has been nationwide criticism over why registered voters will elect their village leaders by lining up behind a candidate of their choice which could fuel conflicts from rival camps.
The voting method is a departure from what is provided for in the Local Government Act of universal adult suffrage through secret ballot.
The move was to lower the cost of conducting the elections from Shs505 billion earlier budgeted for. By this week, the EC had already spent part of the cost of the election of Shs15.7 billion.