The suggested reforms include the need to amend the time of filing and determination of the petition and the nature of evidence.
PIC: CCEDU's Crispin Kaheru (right) addressing a press conference in Kampala, flanked by other civil society activists. (Credit: Ronnie Kijjambu)
Civil society activists have petitioned the Attorney General, demanding for an explanation over delayed implementation of the 2016 Supreme Court recommendations.
In the Election Petition No-1 of 2016, (Amama Mbabazi vs Museveni and others), the court Judges observed and suggested ten (10) reforms in the areas of elections generally and presidential elections in particular.
The suggested reforms include the need to amend the time of filing and determination of the petition, the nature of evidence, the time for holding elections, the use of technology and unequal use of state owned media.
They questioned the late enactment of relevant legislation, donations during elections periods, involvement of public officers in political campaigns, the role of the Attorney General in the election petitions and implementation of the Supreme Court recommendations.
The 15 constitutional scholars from Makerere University who participated in the case as amici curiae had argued that reforms were necessary to make it possible to hold future free and fair elections in Uganda.
At a press conference held at the offices of the Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) in Kampala, on Wednesday, the activists from over 17 CSOs referring to themselves as “game changers” tasked government to demonstrate commitment to the implementation of the recommendations.
Advocacy and Communications officer CCEDU, Charity Ahimbisibwe, said: “Our worry is that the deadline given by the court was about with only four months remaining.”
The Supreme Court tasked the Attorney General to follow up their implementation with other organs of the state, mainly parliament and the executive and report back to the court after two years.
“It is on this ground that we demand the Attorney General, to update the public on the progress made by the state on implementing the recommendations since they are a matter of public interest,” she said.
The judges had also recognized with concern that government had failed to implement the previous electoral petitions made to improve electoral processes.
The activists tasked that parliament should cooperate with the other stakeholders in ensuring that the necessary legislation on use of technology, proposed reform amendments among others is expedited and passed in time before the next elections.
They also suggested that the executive should support parliament and the judiciary and other agencies to ensure citizen’s demands for electoral reforms are responded to, and expedited without jeopardizing their independence.
The national coordinator of CCEDU, Crispin Kaheru, said, Uganda should prioritize cutting down on the election expenditures through adopting technology.
Alleging that in the 2016 general elections about sh3 trillions (about 12.5%) of the budget was used for both electioneering and elections management and security, Kaheru suggested that technologies such as people voting through phones would be much cheaper with about 70% of Ugandans having phones.
“That money can be saved to priority areas, such as agriculture which in financial year 2016-2017 got only 3% and health that shared only 7%,” he said.
The game changers pledged to continue pushing for the reforms through protracted advocacy and that they will mainly focus on two areas of the Supreme Court ruling, the use of technology in elections and involvement of public officers in political campaigns.
In their statement they appealed: “we implore citizens to join hands with us in demanding that government takes the necessary steps to implement the stipulated recommendations with a view of improving the electoral processes.”