Uganda Electoral Commission owns up its mess

Uganda Electoral Commission owns up its mess

Electoral Commission Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama (Photo Courtesy of chimp reports)

This week Uganda Electoral Commission has apologized for its negligence that resulted into nullification of Bukimbiri County Parliamentary seat in Kisoro district because the ballot papers used were defective. The Ugandan taxpayers will now have to fox out over UGX 300 million ($ 79,661.6) to enable Electoral Commission to conduct a by-election in Bukimbiri county.

The Electoral Commission chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama as reported by Daily Monitor- a Ugandan local newspaper said that:

“As a commission, we own up for that mess. The ballot papers are not printed from Uganda and once they are sealed, nobody has the mandate to open them. When we realized this error, it was too late to rectify it. We only thought that the people of Bukimbiri would understand and this mistake and move on with the process”.

This apology follows a condemnation by SecretsKnown that was published in last week’s edition of the news magazine where we held Electoral Commission responsible for this avoidable financial loss.

This is one mistake of the many because, in Eastern part of Uganda, another mistake happened resulting into the nullification of the Soroti City East Parliamentary election. The court of appeal upheld the High Court decision of nullifying the Soroti City East Parliamentary election because Electoral commission conducted the election in the non-existent wards of Aloet and Opilyai. These two wards of Aloet and Opiyai had 1,337 voters and 3,896 voters respectively.

SecretsKnown has established that on 13th November, 2020, a Statutory Instrument was published in the Uganda Gazette notifying the public through the Minister responsible for Local Government with the approval of Parliament that the Composition of Soroti East Division was as follows; a) Eastern Municipal Division b) Nothern Municipal Division c) Opuyo Parish d) Acetgwen Parish e) Opilyai Parish f) Aloet Parish g) Otatai Parish.

With that statutory instrument, the Electoral Commission had no power to distort the composition of the Soroti City East Constituency by removing Opilyai Parish and Aloet Parish. All the commission had to do was the demarcation of Soroti City East inclusive of Opilyai and Aloet Parish. The erroneous decision made by the commission of demarcating Aloet and Opilyai wards outside of Soroti City East did disenfranchise 5,233 voters.

Such incidences and scenarios disparage the competence and public confidence in an institution mandated to guarantee Uganda’s nascent democracy. SecretsKnown highly condemns such recklessness in the strongest possible terms.       

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