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MPs seek suspension of local council nominations

A delegation from the Electoral Commission and Attorney General chambers meeting the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee have called for the suspension of the ongoing nomination exercise for LCIII chairpersons until amendments are made to the Local Government Act.

The legislators have expressed concern over the age restrictions placed by the law on LCIII chairperson aspirants at sub county, municipal or city division level who need to be 30 years or above to qualify to stand for these positions. Several aspirants have already been blocked from nomination on grounds of being underage.

This is despite the 2017 amendment that removed age restrictions for presidential and LCV candidates. The MPs were on Thursday meeting officials from the Electoral Commission led by chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama and accompanied by the Deputy Attorney General Jackson Kafuuzi.

Committee members noted that that there is an inconsistency in the requirements arguing that if an 18-year-old can be allowed to contest for the presidency, then the same requirement should be extended to LCIII chairpersons. Justice Byabakama equally observed that this was an anomaly that was a result of an inadvertent omission at the legislative level. However he added the EC will only operate within provisions of the law.

Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa admits that the Electoral Commission should follow the law but advises the government to include an amendment to remove the age restrictions in the Local Government Amendment Bill that it has just gazetted. He suggests that the nomination exercise be deferred until such an amendment is made.

The government officials had appeared before the committee to seek common ground on the sticky issue regarding the nomination of candidates with names on their National Identity Cards differing from names on their academic documents.

The matter results from a complaint raised by the Soroti woman MP Angeline Osegge who was angered by the fact that the EC was asking married women who have since changed from their maiden names to first publish the intent to change their name in the gazette before seeking the nomination. Currently, married aspirants simply present a statutory declaration and marriage certificate.

MPs Veronica Eragu (Kaberamaido County) and Jovah Kamateeka (Mitooma district) raised objections to the new requirements. But Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu argued that the Electoral Commission was not at fault and should not even have been called for the meeting instead faulting parliament for inconsistencies in the law.

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