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DP demands postponement of village council elections

The opposition Democratic Party has demanded an extension to the start village council elections to allow fresh registration of voters.

The Democratic Party officials led by acting Secretary General Gerald Siranda vice chairman in charge of Buganda Betty Nambooze sated the position on Friday while appearing before Parliament’s Public service and local government committee which is scrutinizing the local government Amendment bill 2016.

Siranda said that government should consider updating the voters register and give sufficient time for candidates to be nominated and conduct campaigns.

Siranda said that the voters register display should be for seven days instead of two days as proposed in the bill to give time to voters to identify the problems in the registers

He also requested the committee to reject the government proposal in the bill that gives power to the Electoral Commission to preside over the tribunal that will receive complaints from voters over the problems in the voters register.

“The electoral commission that undertook the exercise of registering voters cannot be in charge of tribunals to hear elections disputes arising from the voters register. This  role should remain with parish tribunals. That’s the only way of avoiding biases,” said Siranda.

Makindye West member of parliament Allan Sewanyana asked for the reconsideration of provisions which provide for lining up behind candidates while voting the village council leaders.

“This arrangement of voters lining up behind candidates is impractical because many villages have many voters and it will be difficult to have grounds to accommodate these long lines. If the gov’t cannot organize secret ballot voting, let the elections be postponed,”he said.

Mukono Municipality MP Nambooze questioned how elections in Kampala will be handled since the bill under scrutiny does not include the city among local governments.

“I think this committee needs to write to Kampala Minister Beti Kamya to work out a legal instrument for village elections in Kampala since it’s not a district.”

The Electoral Commission has scheduled village and women council elections for  January 17, 2017 though there is still contention over the funds released by government for the exercise.

Other stakeholders that presented their views include Muyenga L C 1 chairman Yasin Omar who also strongly opposed the clause of voters lining up behind candidates.

“This process of lining up behind candidates is dangerous. Imagine a situation where a resident reports a case to a chairman they didn’t vote for and the chairman remembers you didn’t line up behinda them,” argued Omar.

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