By Moses Mulondo
KAMPALA - Opposition parties have completed compiling the necessary constitutional and electoral reforms which they want to be passed early enough ahead of the 2016 elections.
One of these reforms is the creation of an independent electoral commission agreed upon by stakeholders.
In an exclusive interview with New Vision, the FDC spokesman Wafula Oguttu on Monday said they have notified the speaker of parliament to put them on the order paper to present these proposed reforms on the floor of parliament.
The opposition also wants the presidential term limits re-instated and the powers of the president reduced.
Concerning the army, they want the army MPs removed from parliament and the military delinked from electoral processes.
The opposition parties are also pushing for regional governments to be given federal status.
For politicians who are removed from their seats on grounds of rigging, the opposition wants a law that, as punishment, will stop such people from contesting in any other future election.
The parties also want the affirmative action representation to be reviewed in the drive for a lean parliament so as to reduce the cost of public administration.
About two week ago, former Vice President Prof. Gilbert Balibaseka Bukenya, who announced he will stand for the presidency in 2016, also sounded a similar call for urgent attention on the necessary constitutional and electoral reforms to guarantee free and fair elections.
“Our wish is to have these electoral reforms passed before this year ends so that we can have adequate time to sensitize the voters about the electoral laws,” Wafula said.
The FDC official explained that in the course of drafting these reforms, they widely consulted various political parties and the civil society.
He called upon development partners, the civil society, government, and other stakeholders to give the matter urgent attention.
“Uganda’s political ground is not leveled. We need these reforms to be able to have free and fair elections. Without these reforms, 2016 is likely to be chaotic because we can no longer accept rigging,” Wafula elaborated.
The opposition shadow attorney general, Abdu Katuntu, who has been tasked to table a private member’s bill, said on Monday they will have completed drafting the piece of legislation within the next two weeks.
“I am the principle legal advisor for the entire opposition, so other opposition leaders are also involved in this process. The constitutional amendments we are fronting are so many,” Katuntu said.
He said the list of constitutional amendments they want is very long, some of which include the Presidential Election Act, the political parties and organizations Act, the administration of parliament Act and the Electoral Commission Act.
Castigating the Electoral Commission for failing to slap sanctions on parties which don’t submit their financial statements, the FDC publicist (Wafula) said whereas they have been complying in submitting annual reports of their audited accounts, ruling NRM and other parties have not been doing so.
But Electoral Commission spokesperson Jotham Talemwa said “those main parties including NRM, UPC, FDC and DP have been complying although their levels of compliance differ”.
Wafula also said FDC wants government to reduce on State House expenditures and other government expenditures to create money to cater for the 20% pay rise the teachers are demanding for.