Independent committee should vet EC – FDC

By Jeff Andrew Lule

"We want an independent committee appointed by the Judicial Service Commission to select the applicants."

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PIC: FDC spokesman Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda says all EC candidates should go through open application. (Credit: Danielle Nalukenge)

KAMPALA - Opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has called for the appointment of an independent committee to manage the screening of the new Electoral Commission.

The current commission's term ends in November this year.

The party's spokesperson, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda told reporters in Kampala that they want a transparent and inclusive process to vet the new commissioners.

"We want an independent committee appointed by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to select the applicants,” he said.

“We want all candidates to go through a process of open application, public hearings and scrutiny. We do not want President Yoweri Museveni to just appoint his own people like it has been before.”

Semujju said with an independent committee, it does not matter whether they all come from the incumbent party.

"We need credible people to go through the interview process. It does not matter whether all commissioners come from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). We believe not all people in NRM are bad people.”

The FDC spokesman said this is one of the key electoral reforms that the Inter-Party Organisation Dialogue (IPOD) and the opposition have been pushing to promote free and fair elections in the country.

He attributed all the mess in the recently concluded general elections to the incompetence of the EC.

"That is why we have more Members of Parliament being thrown out and more petitions in court," he added.

FDC also wants the number of commissioners increased to nine from seven and to serve a seven-year term unrenewable.

However, when contacted, the government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said the commissioners will continue to be appointed as per the constitution.

"If FDC wants an independent committee to appoint commissioners, they can go ahead and amend the constitution. They have members in Parliament. Otherwise, commissioners are appointed in accordance with the constitution," he said.

FDC also condemned the siege by the supporters of Police boss Gen. Kale Kayihura supporters at Makindye Chief Magistrates Court, protesting his trial, saying it undermines the independence of the judiciary.

"It is surprising that Police just looked on when these people were storming court premises with placards and did nothing. This matter must be investigated. How come they block roads when Col. Kizza Besigye is going to court?

Ssemujju said they want court to take action on all those who were involved, to protect the independence of the judiciary.