By Moses Mulondo
The Electoral Commission (EC) has dismissed the 10 demands for electoral reforms by the opposition which were launched on Monday, saying they are misguided.
EC spokesman Jotham Taremwa said it is unfair for the opposition to demonize their commission by claiming they play a part in rigging of votes.
“They should stop demonizing us because we do our work professionally and without partiality. That is why some elections are won by the opposition while others are won by the NRM,” he said.
The electoral and political demands launched by the opposition this week are:
- An Independent and impartial electoral commission
- Disbanding the current Electoral Commission for a new one agreed upon by all stakeholders
- A new clean and verifiable voters’ register
- Exclusion of the army in the electoral process
- Blocking massive diversion of public funds and demarcation of electoral boundaries
- Freedom to organize and assemble
- Transparent selection of presiding officers
- Involving the opposition in processing and storing of electoral materials
- Ensuring an inclusive tallying process
- A new model for adjudicating presidential election disputes
Taremwa strongly said while the Electoral Commission is committed to the need to improve Uganda’s electoral process, the proposals put across by the opposition and the civil society are not practical.
Reacting on the proposal for disbanding the current EC for a new one, Taremwa said: “You disband and achieve what? The issue should not be disbanding the EC, but reviewing the electoral laws and amend them where necessary.”
He argued further that although the President appoints the EC commissioners, they are approved by the parliament appointments committee which has representatives from the opposition.
The spokesman defended the Uganda Electoral Commission as a credible and non-partisan commission.
He said: “When an opposition candidate wins, [they say] the election is free and fair and when NRM wins, they say the EC is colluding with NRM. They are trying to drag us [EC] into their political campaigns and we are not part of those. We have no control over who wins and who losses.
On the opposition’s demand for a new and clean verifiable voters register, Taremwa said it is needless.
“This is uncalled for because at every election, we update the voters register and involve all the stakeholders in doing so,” he said.
“We always display the register for the stakeholders to examine and raise any complaints, if any. What more transparency and verification do they want?”
The EC publicist expressed dismay that although they launched the strategic plan and roadmap for 2016, the opposition parties have not responded to it.
On the call for an inclusive tallying process – involving all stakeholders at all stages –, Taremwa emphasized that they have always done so.
“That is done sufficiently. Both at the polling stations and district tallying centres, all the stakeholders are involved. If they established that results from a particular area are different from what their agents recorded, they should be able to challenge that.”
Then about the reform on involving the opposition in recruiting presiding officers, the EC official said the body always publicly advertises to invite applicants, and after the recruitment they display their names to establish if the stakeholders have complaints about particular names and make the necessary changes.
Taremwa maintained that it is impractical to involve parties in printing of ballot papers, as it would result into people forging the ballot papers for rigging.