The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) have told parliament to reconsider demands for reforms in the EC.
By Joyce Namutebi and Andrew Ssenyonga
The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) have told parliament to reconsider demands for reforms in the Electoral Commission that will make the 2016 electoral process more credible and less violent.
“As the 2016 general elections draw near there is need for parliament to put in place relevant laws to govern the electoral process.
"Already, the Electoral Commission has launched a road map with the demand to parliament to allocate adequate funds and laws in time to enable it deliver on its mandate,” the clerics said.
Addressing the prayer breakfast meeting with the 9th Parliament, chairman of the council of presidents, Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga, called for the creation of an independent electoral commission and reinstatement of the presidential term limit.
“In hindsight, the 2011 elections were characterised by a tug-of-war that raged between government on the one hand, and civil society and opposition political parties on the other, regarding electoral law reforms that were needed to create a leveled political ground,” Lwanga noted.
The clerics urged parliament to review the Presidential Elections Amendment Act 2009, Parliamentary Electoral Commission Elections Act and the Political Parties’ Amendment Act 2009, since the reforms presented by government fell short of the demands of the opposition, civil societies, law fraternity and a significant number of electorate.
“Evidently, unless there is a comprehensive review of the aforementioned laws to bring about mutually agreed reforms; multiparty politics in Uganda will remain a stunted project to say the least,” IRCU advised.
Among the twelve issues IRCU presented to the parliament, they noted their concern on the cabinet’s attempt to introduce a law on public assemblies.
“We are particularly concerned about the powers given to the IGP to regulate public assemblies. Our view is that this law can be abused to undermine fundamental freedoms such as lawful assembly and expression,” IRCU said.
The clerics also brought the parliament’s attention to the country’ dilapidating health sector saying that it is underfunded and cannot deliver the Uganda National Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 – reduction of child mortality and improvement in the maternal health respectively.
The clerics commended government on its effort to creating an enabling environment for the phenomenal expansion of tertiary education in the country; many poor students cannot afford the rising cost of tertiary education.
“What is more, government needs to overhaul the education system so that students are equipped with adequate entrepreneurial, technical and vocational skills vitally needed for job creation,” clerics advised.
In response the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga promised the clerics that most of the issues raised are pertinent and are before the parliament flow for debate.
“We are also concerned about the health conditions and we are working on the issues of the health sector,” Kadaga said.
The clerics also took a moment of silence to remember the souls of fallen gallant members of the 9th parliament who included Rt. Eriya Kategaya, Dr. Stephen Malinga and Celinah Nebanda.
Clerics tell parliament to reconsider demands for electoral reforms