Electoral reforms: Gov’t proposes stringent rules for Independents

The Attorney General, William Byaruhanga has tabled government proposals for the reform of the electoral laws giving political parties sweeping powers over their members seeking to run as independent candidates.

The proposals are contained the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill 2019, Parliamentary Elections  (Amendment) Bill 2019, Electoral Commission  (Amendment) Bill 2019, Political Parties and Organisations  (Amendment) Bill 2019 and Local Government  (Amendment) 2019.

In its proposals that the Speaker of Parliament has referred to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, the government intends to restrict independent presidential candidates from entering into alliances with any registered political party.

To stand as an independent candidate, one must have ceased being a member of a political party for at least one year.

This therefore means that an aspirant who has contested and lost in a party primary election cannot contest for election until after one year.

The political party must consent to your leaving the party. The parties will also not be allowed to have any links to pressure groups, militia and paramilitary groups.

“It is not a proposal to remove one group against the other, there are different proposals, the main purpose is for them to be debated and in the end, a final position will be reached,” Byaruhanga told journalists at Parliament.

The government also wants prohibit use of cameras and mobile phones at polling stations while the Electoral Commission will be given powers to gazette restricted voting areas.

If the proposals are passed by Parliament,  the Electoral Commission will be free to tally results in the presence of only five people.

Opposition MPs have criticised the proposals saying that they are intended to facilitate rigging of the next elections.