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Elections to cost sh 85bn

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th March 2005 03:00 AM

THE upcoming referendum and the 2006 general elections will cost sh85b, the Electoral Commission (EC) said yesterday.

THE upcoming referendum and the 2006 general elections will cost sh85b, the Electoral Commission (EC) said yesterday.

By Felix Osike and Cyprian Musoke

THE upcoming referendum and the 2006 general elections will cost sh85b, the Electoral Commission (EC) said yesterday.

EC chief Badru Kiggundu said sh22b would be for the referendum slated for July, to approve amendments to the 1995 Constitution. Sh63b will cater for the presidential, parliamentary and local council elections early next year, he said.

Kiggundu made the remarks at a public dialogue on “Elections under a multiparty political dispensation” at the Speke Resort, Munyonyo.

Speaker of Parliament Edward Ssekandi opened the dialogue. The Speaker of the Ghana Parliament, Dr. Kwadwu Afari Gyan, delivered the keynote address. Kenya’s deputy electoral commission chairman Gabriel Mukele also presented a paper.

Representatives of political parties, civil organisations and diplomats attended it.

Gyan said a multiparty election was a competition, which required appropriate rules. “A multiparty election requires the election monitoring body and its officials, the government, the political parties, the candidates, the media, the security forces and the voters to be disciplined,” he said.

He added, “Irrespective of the number of political parties in a country, there is no multiparty politics if one of the parties dominates to such an extent that the combined strength of the others does not amount to restraining influence.”

Kiggundu said the EC had in the past encountered severe budget cuts and late release of funds, which hampered its operations. He called for timely release of funds.
He cited other constraints as late enactment of the electoral laws, inadequate voter education and unbecoming candidates behaviour.

Ssekandi said sometimes the Executive was to blame for the delay in enacting laws. He said Parliament might not meet the expected deadline of enacting the relevant laws by end of July this year. “With the transition, we cannot embark on electoral laws before the constitution is in place. It will be speculative. We have to wait until the constitution is in place. You will bear with us if we don’t meet this deadline,” said Ssekandi.

Ssekandi also urged the media and the civil society to ensure neutrality as the Uganda moves to multipartyism and politicians to tolerate each other’s views. “Ugandans should remain calm and use the power of the vote to decide who should lead them,” he said.

On the sidelines of the meeting representatives of some shadow political organisations issued a statement calling for facilitation from government to carry out joint civic education.

Kiggundu outlined the measures the EC will take to ensure the next polls are free and fair. They include, use of photo bearing voters cards, regular consultations with all the stakeholders, cooperation with the police, early voter education and training of field election officials and thumbnail inking prior to ballot casting to eliminate multiple voting.

It will also limit convoys at nominations and during campaigns to minimise clashes and introduce a complaints desk.

In the 2006 general elections, 353 elective positions will have to be filled on the same day, said Kiggundu. This will comprise of the President, MPs including women representatives and the Local Council 5 chairpersons.

He said about 20,000 polling stations will be established by next year. Registered voters are 8.2 million but Kiggundu said the number was expected to increase due to ongoing voter registration and enthusiasm enhanced by parties to compel their supporters to register.

“This unique mode of polling will have a great impact on time (an average of six minutes per voter to go through all the four ballot boxes) more space will be required to arrange the voting layout, vote counting and declaration of results,” he said.

Kiggundu released the draft guidelines for all political parties for the coming polls.

Key among the guidelines is the ban on the carrying, use or display of weapons at campaign meetings, party’s headquarters, registration stations, polling stations and ballot counting stations. Only security personnel on duty will carry weapons.

Gyan said the opposition parties should constantly highlight any abuses of the incumbent.

Elections to cost sh 85bn

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