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Opposition vows to block Gov plan to extend tabling electoral reforms

FILE PHOTO: Opposition in Parliament

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Opposition in Parliament has said they will not allow for further extension of the time frame within which Government will present electoral reforms.

The Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba and Ndorwa East MP on Friday met with the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga over electoral reforms ahead of the 2021 elections.

In 2016, Supreme Court judges led by Chief Justice Bart Katureebe while delivering their judgment in the Amama Mbabazi Versus Museveni and 2 Others Presidential Election Petition made pronouncements about outstanding electoral reforms that are meant to guarantee free and fair elections.

Some of the recommendations included extending the filing and determination period of presidential election petitions to 60 days to enable the concerned parties and court to adequately prepare and present their case, regulation of public officials in elections and punishment of media houses, which refuse to grant equal airtime to all presidential candidates and prohibition of donations during elections among others.

Government has since then failed to table the electoral reforms before Parliament citing lack of finances and need for harmonization of the different electoral reforms.

Niwagaba says after meeting with the Speaker, she has asked to read through the draft electoral reforms authored by the opposition and get back to them on the way forward.

Niwagaba says although they are not sure if Government will present their reforms this week following the looming deadline, they will not allow for further extension of the timeframe with which Government can table the electoral reforms but push for the presentation of theirs.

“She said she needs to look through my draft this week, and then she will advise if she will accommodate us. She just said let her look through my bill and my motion and she will give us feedback. We will definitely not concede to any further extension if Government is not ready” Niwagaba told URN on phone.

Initially, Government had up to April to table the electoral reforms, but this has dragged on to date.

In January this year, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Gen Kahinda Otafiire, said that in order to address issues of elections in Uganda it was important to handle the matter chronologically from the review and amendment of the Constitution together with the electoral reforms.

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