The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Hon Betty Aol Ocan, has sought the advice of her Ghanaian counterpart on how to push for electoral reforms in time for the 2021 general elections.
In the company of Chief Opposition Whip, Hon Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, Shadow Ministers Bamukwatsa Betty (Local Government) and Emmanuel Ongiertho (Cooperatives), Aol Ocan said the biggest obstacle the Opposition faces is an unleveled electoral field.
“As long as our Electoral Commission is not independent, we have no chance; I want you to tell us how you managed to push for electoral reforms,” said Aol Ocan.
Ghana’s Minority Leader, Haruna Idrissu said the Opposition should not relent in their push for electoral reforms, including proposing amendments to the Constitution if needed.
“What you should be doing is to ask for electoral reforms, including a change to the Constitution which you need to untiringly advocate for,” said Idrissu.
He also spoke against a divided Opposition, which he said is the usual let down when it comes to team building.
“The first thing is to be loyal to your leader regardless of whether or not you like him…you need to put your egos aside and ensure you work for your wider interests,” said Idrissu.
Aol Ocan and her team are holding back-to-back meetings with their counterparts in Ghana, and are fronting opposition unity and electoral reforms as the bare minimums needed for meaningful participation in the upcoming elections.
Last week, Aol Ocan led her Shadow Ministers into a retreat, which coincided with that of the ruling National Resistance Movement MPs in Kyankwanzi.
The question of electoral reforms is generating debate as the 2021 general elections approach, with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga instructing Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire to bring the reforms for Parliament’s consideration as a matter of urgency.
In a recent plenary sitting, Otafiire said the electoral reforms will have to await the constitution of the Constitution Review Commission, which he said will collect Ugandans’ views on general reforms to the laws.
Opposition MPs are seeing this as a ploy to frustrate the introduction of the reforms in good time, with Shadow Attorney General, HOn Wilfred Niwagaba threatening to table a Private Member’s Bill seeking to introduce the reforms.
Aol Ocan and team are attending a workshop on opposition cohesion at the invitation of the African Centre for Parliamentary Affairs (ACEPA), an Accra based policy think-tank.