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Electoral commission not independent enough – LOP Betty Aol

FILE PHOTO: Betty Aol Ochan

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Leader of opposition in Parliament, Betty Aol Ochan has clashed with the Electoral Commission chairperson Justice Simon Mugenyi Byakagaba over the independence of the electoral body in the run up to 2021 general elections.

Aol says the Electoral Commission is not independent enough to de-commercialize the electoral processes of Uganda. She says failure of the Commission to condemn commercialization of politics is hurting core democratic and good governance principles of elections in the country.

Aol who is also the Gulu Woman Member of Parliament said on Thursday that most Members of Parliaments are buying their way into Parliament over failure of the Electoral Commission to hold those propagating commercialization of elections to account for their actions.

According to Aol, pleas for good governance and democracy in Parliament will remain a dream if the Electoral Commission remains silent about commercialization of politics in Uganda. She says the third phase of the National Development Plan should empower the Commission to undertake robust voter education in order to defeat the menace of commercialization of elections in the 2021 general elections.

The leader of Opposition was speaking at a dialogue for the formulation of the third National Development Plan in Kampala. She said the opposition is pushing for comprehensive Constitutional review instead of the piece meal constitutional amendment bent on entrenching patronage in the politics of Uganda.

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Justice Simon Mugenyi Byakagaba shot back saying the submission is premised on unfounded fear that the 2021 general elections will be marred by tension and violence.

Justice Byakagaba says questioning the independence of the Electoral Commission only serves to proliferate tensions among the voters that the elections will have violence.

He says from conducting successful LC elections last year; the Commission has established a good track record of independence. He challenged the opposition to produce evidence pinning the commission of lack of Independence.

Justice Byakagaba urged the Opposition to desist from breeding an atmosphere of tension that the 2021 general elections will be violent.

The Electoral Commission is already implementing the Road map for the 2021 general elections. It is recruiting more than 10,000 polling officials to preside over the processes.

The Independence of the Electoral Commission has been questioned over time on account that it is appointed by the President who is often contesting in the Elections himself which makes it serve the interests of the appointing authority.

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