The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Justice Simon Byabakama has revealed that the nomination dates for presidential, parliamentary and local government elections have been moved from August to October 2020.
The revelation follows concerns raised by Members of Parliament that government business would be suffocated if the nominations are in August which will have the MPs and ministers taking time off to take part in campaigns.
Byabakama who was appearing before the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on Tuesday, 25 February 2020 said that this will not suffocate government business.
“The commission has adjusted the nomination period for presidential and parliamentary elections from August 12 and 20 respectively to beginning of October this year,” Byabakama said adding that, “we acknowledge that we should not take the country into a long time of politicking and electioneering”.
The MPs also called for laws to clearly stipulate guidelines on campaigns and registration of voters saying that political aspirants are consistently carrying out campaigns way before the constitutionally provided time.
“If you go to my constituency, you can think that voting is on the next day. The law should put in place penalties for defaulters even if one is an incumbent,” said Jacob Oboth, the Chairperson of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.
The Members of the Committee were also concerned about the ongoing campaigns by their opponents before the stipulated period.
“Because there is no law, down in our constituencies our opponents are busy distributing posters and mobilizing masses while taking advantage of every event, ” Hon Veronica Eragu Bichetero (NRM, Kaberamaido District ).
The MPs on the Committee also want the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to produce regulations on consultations and other election related issues which are not clearly stipulated in the Constitution within two months.
MPs were concerned that although the constitution provides for consultations, interpreting what entails consultations is unknown.
They referred to the recent scenario where Police stopped a presidential aspirant, Hon Robert Kyagulanyi from carrying out consultations under unclear circumstances.
“The law does not capture what consultations entail, as we speak it is difficult to consult if you want to contest for presidency because police will block you” said Hon Medard Sseggona (DP, Busiro East).
Sseggona was concerned that the conduct of Police as the country gets close to the general elections is likely to breed favoritism towards the ruling party against other political parties.
“By their conduct operationally, they have annexed themselves to the National Resistance Movement,” Sseggona said.
Legislators castigated the Police for lack of clear regulations guiding consultations.
“I think there is a dilemma; you cannot ask the Electoral Commission to explain what consultations entail and that is why Police behaves like that?” Hon Asuman Basalirwa (JEEMA, Bugiri Municipality).