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Local Council polls on hold

By Taddeo Bwambale

Added 5th January 2017 05:06 PM

The elections initially planned to be held last year are now overdue by close to a year as Parliament scrutinizes the local government amendment Bill, 2016.

Local Council polls on hold

The elections initially planned to be held last year are now overdue by close to a year as Parliament scrutinizes the local government amendment Bill, 2016.

EC Secretary, Sam Rwakoojo. Photo/File

Preparations for elections of Local Councils I, II and women councils and committees are on hold as government considers amendments to the law and the consideration of the polls budget.

The elections initially planned to be held last year are now overdue by close to a year as Parliament scrutinizes the local government amendment Bill, 2016.

The Bill contains major proposals that target to reduce the cost of holding the polls from sh15.9b asked for by the Electoral Commission (EC).

The minister of finance, Matia Kasaija told Parliament last week that government can only afford sh10b for the polls, which the EC says is not enough.

Subsequently, the Electoral Commission has announced its preparatory activities for the polls will wait until a revised budget has been approved by government.

In a statement signed by the EC Secretary, Sam Rwakoojo, the electoral body said it has submitted its proposals to government for consideration.

"Accordingly, the Commission through the ministry of justice and constitutional affairs submitted her proposals to government for consideration," Rwakoojo stated in a statement dated January 3, 2017.

"In view of the above, the commencement of the electoral programme now awaits consideration and approval by government for proposed areas for amendment and revised budget," the statement reads.

EC has previously argued that sh10b is inadequate to conduct nominations, campaigns, and voting in over 50,000 villages across the country.

Uganda has not held  has not held the local council polls since 2000, after the constitutional court ruled that the manner in which LC polls were being conducted was contrary to multiparty political set up.

The electoral body's initial budget for the polls was sh505b, which government deemed exorbitant the Bill to conduct village and parish level elections.

The local council polls were initially arranged to be held this month. The polls had a separate roadmap from that of last year's general elections for president, parliament and local government.

The constitution stipulates that elections for presidential, general, parliamentary and local government should be held within 30 days of the last 90 days before the sitting President's term of office expires.

On the of the early proposals in the Local Governments (Amendment) Bill 2016 was the change from secret ballot to lining up behind candidates, their representatives, their portraits or symbols.

Instead of giving hard copies of the voters' register to registered political parties with candidates vying for the posts, the EC would give the parties soft copies to cut costs.

The period for display of the voters register will also reduce from 21 days to two days, while the time for campaigns will be reduced from seven to one.

Another key proposed amendment involves granting the EC powers to handle complaints related to the display of the voters register, instead of a special tribunal that it provided for under the existing law.

The commission's deputy spokesperson, Paul Bukenya told New Vision on Thursday that activities regarding the polls were on hold ‘until we obtain approved amendments.'

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