By Innocent Anguyo
GOVERNMENT has started public review of electoral reforms to enable free and fair 2016 general elections.
This follows anxiety of the public about the ability of the Electoral Commission (EC) to deliver free and fair polls.
According to the Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC) which is spearheading the review of electoral laws, members of the public will take part in the review which will be conducted in form of a survey.
Launching the review, the Secretary ULRC, Lucas Omara Abong, said the review seeks to identify and fill loopholes and purge all irregularities that mar the course of election including pre-election, election and post-election.
“The review will focus on all the six categories of elections namely Presidential, Parliamentary, Local Government, Administrative Unit, Youth and Women,” Omara said.
Priority issues that seek opinion of the public include independence of the EC, penalties and fines for offences committed during elections, restriction to contributions to political parties and candidates, equal treatment of state owned media and two voters appearing under the same name.
Others are presence of security personnel at polling stations, voter education, special interest groups in Parliament, term limits for elective offices, age requirement for elective offices and the separation of powers and appointment of the executive in a multiparty parliament.
More issues include the creation of districts and other administrative units, resolution of electoral disputes, late enactment of electoral laws and regulations, election observers and party agents, nomination fees, academic qualification for elective offices and the use of government resources during elections.
Nevertheless, Ugandans can equally generate their own issues that require review. “Recently, the opposition stated how they want the 2016 elections to be handled. We ask them to participate in the current review so that their interest can be catered for,” said Omara.
How the public will participate
Ugandans will participate in the review through a survey that will be conducted in 45 (to cover nearly 50% of populace) out of the 112 districts of Uganda.
A total of 8,205 respondents will be consulted by two research teams using various data collection methods such as key informant interviews, districts meetings, household interviews, focus group discussions, and national workshop.