Government prepares to table electoral reforms

Cabinet is considering tabling in amendments to the various electoral laws before the end of May to allow Parliament to consider the reforms in time for the 2021 general elections.

Attorney General, William Byaruhanga told Parliament that, following the Supreme Court ruling of

April 18, which upheld the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2018, government is now ready to proceed with Bills on electoral law reforms.

The Bills before cabinet are, Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill,2019 and  Local Governments (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

“The draft Bills constitute amendments arising out of the Supreme Court recommendations in

Constitutional Petition No.1 of 2016, the European Union Election Observation Mission Report of the Uganda Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Elections February 18, 2016, consequential amendments from the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2018, and proposed amendments submitted to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs by the Electoral Commission,” Byaruhanga told Parliament.

The reforms, Byaruhanga said, will be presented before Parliament before the end of this month once cabinet passes them.

In addition to the electoral reforms, government is also adopted rules to guide petitioners challenging the outcome of a presidential election.

The rules were drafted by the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe in consultation with Byaruhanga.

“The Rules provide for the nature of evidence in presidential election petitions to permit oral evidence in addition to affidavit evidence and provide for the addition of the Attorney General as a respondent in a presidential election petition,” Byaruhanga told Parliament.

The Attorney General’s statement however attracted a heated debate especially from the Shadow attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba who in January tabled a notice of motion to move a private member’s bill to amend the Constitution for purposes of enacting political and electoral reforms.

Niwagaba argued that Byaruhanga’s Bills don’t address the issues that he intends to touch in the private member’s bill. Among the issues that Niwagaba included in his Bill is the removal of UPDF representatives in Parliament, the constitution of the Electoral Commission and reinstitution of Presidential term limits among others.

Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah rested the matter by giving Byaruhanga up to the end of the month to table the government amendments including one to amend the Constitution short of which, Niwagaba will be given a green light to table his private Bill.