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Editorial: New EC without electoral reform leaves sour taste

A new Electoral Commission is in place after parliament’s appointments committee cleared President Museveni’s nominees on Monday.

But not everybody is happy. Winnie Kiiza, the leader of opposition, and other opposition MPs boycotted the session, saying they didn’t want to rubberstamp a commission that will not guarantee its independence as demanded by Ugandans through civil society and opposition politicians.

Democratic Party president general Norbert Mao had earlier expressed his concern in writing to the speaker, saying the president’s unilateral appointments had gone against the spirit of the Interparty Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) meeting in July, during which Museveni committed himself to an inclusive process.

While President Museveni acted within his constitutional mandate, and Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi and his team are qualified for the job, it must also be acknowledged that elections involve two or more parties and their faith and trust in the process, and the people behind it, is critical.

Therefore, persistent calls for electoral reform must not be brushed aside. No football player would expect fair treatment in a competitive game where the referee and assistants are appointed solely by the manager of the opposite side.

So far, calls for electoral reform have been met with ridicule or cosmetic changes such as altering the name of the electoral commission to include the word “independent”, while leaving everything else intact, and now the appointment of a judge to head the electoral body. Reform must go beyond that.

For peace and security to be sustainable, a prerequisite for development, elections must be credible. To be credible, the organisers must not only be independent and fair-minded but the actors, more so the ruling party, must act in good faith.

Elections in which the incumbent uses state organs to gain unfair advantage over opponents are recipe for instability. An electoral commission where not just the commissioners but other top leaders are perceived to be partisan is unlikely to deliver free and fair elections. 

At the end of the day, a free and fair election must not only be declared so but it must also be seen to be so.

Comments

0 #1 ainembabazi 2016-12-07 10:26
With or/and without reforms, Museveni cannot loose an election.

He has threatened to go back to the bush if that ever happened.

And Ugandans fear Museveni's Bush more than they fear hell. Just watch this space.
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+2 #2 Temangalo 2016-12-07 21:26
It is the responsibility of all Ugandans to refuse Museveni's unilaterally picked Electoral Commission.

Ugandans have watched what has happened in the past two or three elections, especially, the 2016 elections which has led current economic crisis and sufferingin Uganda.

Our so called working class and other civil society organizations to take the lead to standup and reject this move by Museveni to unilaterally appoint the Electoral Commission.

Electoral reforms beginning with a well constituted nationally selected merit based individuals accepted by the public through public hearings.

Citizen must not allow their rights to a peaceful country and life to be put at risk because one individual's desire for power..

What I do not understand with Ugandans is while we have a government that is very receptive to refugees we are not ashamed of massacre and killing of our own citizens. as recently killings occurred in Kasese.
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