Wednesday August 1 2012

Electoral body to spend Shs600m on Kasese poll



As the election day for the hotly contested Kasese Woman parliamentary seat draws closer, the Electoral Commission (EC) has drawn out a Shs590 million budget for the exercise.
The Kasese Woman parliamentary seat is contested for by FDC’s Winfred Kiiza, NRM’s Rehema Muhindo and Rosemary Masika, the DP candidate.

The election will take place on August 8. The EC chairman, Dr Badru Kiggundu, said the commission will spend Shs590 million in the by-election, that has got 473 polling stations. It will be the third time Ms Muhindo is tussling for the seat with Ms Kiiza. The seat fell vacant after the Court of Appeal ruled that over 6,000 votes were wrongfully invalidated by the EC which substantially affected the outcome of the election.

The Kasese Woman parliamentary race is seen as a battle between Ms Kiiza and Ms Muhindo. An independent candidate, Ms Betty Kayezu, pulled out of the race last week. She is yet to indicate which candidate she will support.

Media reports indicate that the FDC party is in negotiation with the DP to persuade its candidate, Ms Masika, to withdraw from the race in favour of Ms Kiiza.

Also on the EC agenda item is conducting two other by-elections slated for September 12, in Butambala County, Butambala District and Usuk County, in Katakwi District. Court nullified the election of the Butambala MP while the Usuk MP died two weeks ago.

Election law
The Parliamentary Elections Act states that a by-election has to be conducted within 60 days from when the seat is declared vacant. According to the programme, the activities for the two by-elections will run from August 9, to the polling date September 12, 2012.

Meanwhile, the commission will also use the by-election opportunity to conduct another five elections on the Local Government level which had not been filled in the different sub-counties like Nyakatonzi, Lake Katwe, Isanga, Kisinga and Kinyamasika. Court nullified elections in most constituencies for reasons ranging from candidates lacking requisite qualifications and bribery.

Currently with the three remaining by-elections, the commission has already spent Shs2 billion on the already concluded eight parliamentary by-elections.

Meanwhile, the EC said yesterday that it does not have the money to pay court awards in cases where it has been found to be at fault with elections due to non-compliance with the electoral laws and have to pay the costs of the respondents and the affected candidates.

Dr Kiggundu yesterday said the EC will settle the payment when “such money is provided for in the budget, preferably next financial year.”