Electoral Commission chairman Simon Byabakama has told parliament that his commission is not prepared for the anticipated referendum on the extension of the presidential term in office.
Byabakama told the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee yesterday that the commission can only budget for and organize a referendum after receiving a formal communication from parliament.
This did not go well with the committee chairperson Jacob Oboth-Oboth who said Byabakama and his commission should be aware of proceedings in parliament that led to approval of the presidential term extension.
“It is under the EC mandate to conduct elections once the bill was enacted into law, parliament doesn’t need to convene another sitting to pass a new resolution to that effect,” Oboth-Oboth said.
The extension of the presidential term of office from five to seven years was a recommendation by the legal committee, which scrutinized the Constitutional Amendment (N0. 2) Bill 2017.
The bill, which also removed presidential age limits and restored term limits, was passed by parliament on December 20 and President Museveni appended his signature a week later.
The move, however, is under contention by some Ugandans and the Uganda Law Society and the opposition have since gone to court demanding its nullification.
Under the law, the recommendation to extend the presidential tenure of office can only go through a referendum. Section 4 of the Referendum and other Provisions Act, 2005 enjoins the commission to organize, conduct and supervise all referenda.
According to Byabakama, where a referendum is required, the commission shall, upon receipt of a resolution from Parliament, subject it to Article 260 and prepare accordingly.
“Once we are armed with a resolution, we shall go ahead and budget for the referendum,” Byabakama said.