Voters in Lwabenge lining up behind their choice candidate during LCI elections in 1998.
By John Semakula
The LCI and LCII elections, which have been pending for over a decade, will now be conducted after the 2016 general elections.
Electoral Commission (EC) spokesperson Jotham Taremwa told Saturday Vision that Parliament introduced two amendments in the Local Governments (Amendment) Bill 2013, which have made it impossible to conduct the elections this year.
“We had proposed amendments to the Act, to allow us prepare cheaper elections. But the amendments introduced in Parliament sabotaged our plans,” Taremwa said.
The EC had planned to use sh59b to conduct the elections, but it now requires sh993b.
“There is no chance that the Government will release sh993b for the local council elections and also sh1.6 trillion for the general elections,” Taremwa said.
He said the amendments required EC to procure an electronic signature reader for each of the 112 district registrars.
A source in EC said the MPs introduced the amendment to block the introduction of ghost voters into the national voters’ register.
The electronic device is similar to the one used at airports to verify passports. Taremwa said the system was expensive.
The other amendment requires EC to publicise the voters’ register in the Gazette, a move Taremwa said was also expensive.
“We saw the amendments as soon as they were introduced in Parliament and we raised a red flag to all the stakeholders, but nobody listened to us, until the President assented to the Bill,” he said.
Taremwa said they formed a committee to ensure the Act was amended.
Postponing LCI and LCII elections will not only compromise security in the country, but also give chairpersons who have held onto their seats for over a decade, another two years.
Since 2006, the Government has been planning to organise the elections, but whenever the promised date came, another excuse to delay the exercise arose.
Taremwa also insisted that village elections will be conducted by secret ballot, unless the Constitution is amended.