Voters Confused About The 2021 Elections- Asuman Basalirwa

CCEDU Board members after the AGM COURTESY PHOTO

 Political Candidates cannot breath ahead of the 2021 elections

KAMPALA, Uganda|SHIFTMEDIA| As we go to the 2021 Elections it must be understood that there are key tenets to a free and fair election that are missing said Honourable Asuman Basalirwa, the MP for Bugiri who also doubles as the Chairman of IPOD at the CCEDU AGM held on Monday, August 31, 2020, at the CCEDU Muyenga Office.

Asuman said the voters and candidates can hardly understand the election they are engaged in. “As you have heard from the members today at the CCEDU AGM, some people are asking are we conducting a scientific election,? Is it a hybrid Election, are we going to vote through phones,” these are some of the unanswered questions in the minds of voter‟s that need clarity. There is a big gap in civic and voter education ahead of 2021. CCEDU played a key role in 2016  and now the gap for  2021  is being felt.  We hope  CCEDU  can soon launch a  voter education campaign to clarify for the voter some of the questions they have in their heads as regards the 2021 Elections.

There is also confusion around the  EC  guidelines.  The  EC  issued guidelines and the Electoral Commission also issued guidelines, the ones of the Ministry of Health are enforceable under the law but the ones of EC, they are not gazetted and as such, they are not a statutory instrument and if our over-zealous Policemen decide to institute those guidelines that have no force of law we shall end up with endless legal battles. The 2021 Elections have the highest display of no standards at all.

The likelihood of standard operating procedures being abandoned in the 2021 elections is high. What will EC do about such scenarios? There will be no social distancing at all. EC will most likely be helpless. “The ground is so unlevelled. While NRM is left to hold meetings, other political parties are denied the chance by the Police. Honorable Zaake was beaten to death for distributing food and yet Hon. Haruna Kasolo was not beaten even when he distributed food during COVID-19. We need civil societies like CCEDU to restrain the Police,” he said.

“During the Special Interest Group Elections in Bugiri constituency which I represent the voters mistook the special interest Group Elections for NRM primary Elections and many of them missed out. The EC has not played its role in voter Education,” said Basalirwa.

He said the 2021 Election is going to be one of the most expensive elections in this country. “In the past we as candidates used to have rallies and campaign and go home, but now we have to hold small group meetings and the cost implications are enormous. We have to feed the people we host and also provide transport refund. We the candidates cannot breath. For the candidates who are not holding small meetings, we are walking door to door convincing voters to vote for us. In terms of cost this will be one of the most expensive campaigns in the history of this country,” he said.

Then there is the mess of reorganising polling stations and creating new constituencies and counties in September when the election is four months away. “EC has caused confusion in the

whole electoral exercise. Will you make new registers after reorganising polling stations. This is going to breed more confusion for the voter. The law is clear, the first activity on the roadmap is organising polling stations, not half way into the electoral process, then you start re-organizing polling stations. We shall challenge this in court with civil society,” Basalirwa charged.

In 2016, CCEDU played a distinguished role of contributing to the jurisprudence of this country when they introduced the term „ Amicus Curea‟, this was established from the highest court. Therefore, the role of observers such as CCEDU should not and must not be undermined by anybody especially the donors. Part o the evidence and reference that was made in the 2016 elections case in the Supreme Court was drawn from the observer reports that were compiled by CCEDU and CEON-U.

In his response, the Kampala Regional Elections Officer Fred Tibakuno, who represented the  EC Chairperson, said they respect the work of CCEDU and appreciate the Election Observation reports that CCEDU continues to share with the EC. He said the recommendations from these reports are regarded highly in EC meetings and usually inform some of the decisions the Electoral body makes. “CCEDU is more than a partner to the EC. CCEDU is a friend of the EC,” he said.

Dr. Miria Matembe was in attendance

On the question of Voter Education, he said, EC had procured megaphones and had decided to distribute them across each parish in Uganda so that information can easily and quickly reach the voter. He said since CCEDU are key partners, EC has no problem sharing the megaphones to aid the process of Voter education because the end goal is to have the voter access information to do with elections.

“CCEDU has played a critical role in the promotion of the rule of law in this country. They have vouched for inclusive, credible elections by demanding for electoral reforms. CCEDU has promoted peace, tolerance, and dialogue in elections,” he said. In the just-concluded Special Interest Group Elections, CCEDU raised a number of issues, which we acknowledge as a commission and we are working to improve ahead of District and Local Government elections. “Voting is supposed to be an issue of secrecy in a democratic society,” he said.

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