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Electoral Commission needs UGX 861 billion for 2021 elections

Electoral Commission at the 2021 election roadmap. photo via @mlnangalama

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Electoral Commission will need 861 billion Shillings to organize the 2021 general elections, more than double the amount of 419 billion Shilling spent to organize the 2016 general elections.

The budget was announced by the Electoral Commission Secretary Sam Rwakoojo during the launch of the commission’s strategic plan and roadmap for 2020/21 elections at Hotel Africana in Kampala this morning.

Rwakoojo said that the figure is driven by the increase in the number of administrative units, the need for continuous improvement of the electoral process, comprehensive voter education that the commission plans to undertake, the plan to implement the 2016 presidential election Supreme Court recommendations and inflation.

The amount includes the budget for Local Council one and two elections which will be held in 2022. They were held last year for the first time since 2005. But Rwakoojo said the figure does not include funds for acquisition of new Electoral Commission headquarters.

The number of districts will increase to 141 by 2021 from the 121 that held elections in 2016, while the municipalities will increase from 39 to 80, sub counties from 1,398 to 2,000 and the parishes from 7,431 to 9,500. The villages will also increase from 57,842 to 65,200 and polling stations are expected to reach 35,000 from 28,010 of 2016.

The Electoral Commission also expects the number of registered voters to reach 19.4 million from 15.2 million of 2016, an increase of 4.2 million voters in a period of five years. Rwakoojo says that the commission expects to organize elections for 1.5 million positions including women councils from grassroots to the top level.

The strategic plan and road maps have dates when key activities are supposed to be accomplished. The activities start with the demarcation of constituencies and electoral boundaries in March next year.

The Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi said the strategic plan has been informed by extensive research and stakeholder consultations. He said that the early release of the roadmap is meant to provide clear communication and priority areas in the electoral cycle with an aim of improving operational efficiency. Byabakama appealed to the government to ensure timely amendment of electoral laws. This, he said is supposed to be completed by March next year.

He also appealed for the creation of new administrative units in time since they impact on the EC budget. The commission is yet to organize elections in six new districts which became operational at the start of this financial year due to a shortage of funds.

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda pledged financial support for the electoral activities in a timely manner. He said amendments of electoral laws if necessary will also be done as early as possible.

Rugunda cautioned the Electoral Commission that it will be watched closely by stakeholders as it embarks of the process of organizing next cycle of elections. He said the commission should promote transparency of the highest order to scale up the confidence of stakeholders in its activities.

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