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Gov’t not interested in electoral reforms, says Kadaga

Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has said government is showing disinterest in submitting electoral reforms to Parliament.

Despite several reminders, said Kadaga, the government has since the 2016 general elections not submitted proposed reforms to Parliament.

In a meeting with a delegation from the European Union, headed by Mr Eduard Kukan, Kadaga said Parliament, too, is waiting for the reforms.

I don't believe that the government has an intention to bring electoral reformswe have been told casually that there will be a Constitution Review CommissionI know they [government] want to do what they usually do, to stampede Parliament, said Kadaga.

Ms Kadaga said Parliament is a mere actor in the process, and that the European Union can offer training to MPs so that they can bring electoral reforms by way of private Members' bills.

The Speaker listed campaign financing, determination of electoral boundaries and voter education as areas that require attention and reform.

Elections are very expensive; I think we need to regulate campaign financing. In determination of electoral boundaries, I think there is some gerrymandering, she said.

Mr Kukan voiced concerns over delayed implementation of electoral reforms following the unanimous Supreme Court ruling in the Amama Mbabazi Vs Yoweri Museveni Presidential Election Petition of 2016.

The Supreme Court gave several recommendations and tasked the Attorney General to report on the progress of implementation within two years.

Government is, however, yet to introduce the reforms, prompting concerns from the European Union election observers.

What happened to the recommendations? We seek to be more engaging, to offer more assistance and to listen to your suggestions. We also wish to know your assessment of the current political situation, said Kukan.

During the heightened debate on the Constitution Amendment Act 2017, which among others removed age limits for presidential aspirants, proponents said they were responding to the Supreme Court recommendations of introducing electoral reforms within two years.

The Act, now being challenged in the Constitutional Court by several parties, extended the time for filing and determination of presidential election petitions to 15 and 45 days after declaration of results respectively.

The Act also extended the term of Parliament from five to seven years, beginning with the current Parliament.

Opposition MPs, however, said the Act does not introduce electoral reforms, recommended by the Supreme Court.

In a recent press conference at Parliament, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Maj Gen (Rtd) Kahinda Otafiire said the Constitution Review Commission is already established, awaiting finances so they may commence work.

Kadaga said Parliament is keen to enact the electoral reforms, and advised the delegation to talk to President Yoweri Museveni and interest him in the reforms.

Whenever you meet with the President, continue to talk to him and remind him, she said.

Source: Parliament of Uganda

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