By Umaru Kashaka
The Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), a broad coalition of over 600 like-minded civil society organizations, has deployed 360 observers to observe the last days of the ongoing registration for national identity cards.
The Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control Act (2009) provides for the compulsory registration of all Ugandans. The enrollment was launched in April and is expected to end on August 19.
In a statement issued by Crispy Kaheru, CCEDU’s coordinator, the organisation said that it had learned that the Voters roll is a vital yardstick in determining the freeness and fairness of an electoral process.
“Some of the queries that have been raised around the process speak to the legality of drawing the voter register from the national ID database vis-à-vis the mandate of the Electoral Commission,” CCEDU said.
It noted, for example, that the questions are around assurance of privacy of the data collected and around the chronology of interventions (shouldn’t we have a national census first, followed by ID registration, then conduct a voter registration process?); and the continuity of the exercise and registration of Ugandans living abroad.
“It is against this background that CCEDU seeks to assess the credibility of the process against international standards,” said Kaheru.
The resolve by government, according to Pamela Ankunda, the spokesperson of internal affairs ministry, is to issue an identity card to the 18 million Ugandans so that they use it as a voting card.
“It would be used as a voting card. If you don’t have the ID card, you will not vote in 2016 and you will not also stand for any elective office in the country,” she said.
The government early last week said the exercise had been pegged back by malfunctioning kits, extortion, unreliable power supply and delay in supplies, among a litany of operational difficulties.
Internal Affairs minister Aronda Nyakairima told Parliament that the registration is also being hampered by politics, faulting some politicians for claiming that the enrolment is solely for suspicious activities likely to ensue during the 2016 general elections.
CCEDU says the areas of focus will include that those registering are aware that this process will inform the national voters register for the 2016 elections; only Ugandan citizens are being registered; only citizens of the age 16+ are being registered; and for the eligible candidates, no rejections at the registration centers are being made.
“CCEDU will also be interested in ascertaining whether the set parameters are being adhered to during the registration exercise. Some of the parameters relate to length of time to register one person and awareness of the stakeholders and officers at the registration points of their roles and responsibilities, reads the statement,” reads the statement.
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