Electoral reforms: Government, opposition hold talks
Posted Friday, February 28 2014 at 02:00
Government blamed for treating opposition members as enemies rather than partners.
KAMPALA- The proposed electoral reforms ahead of the 2016 polls will be achieved at a cost, the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has warned.
“Whereas we may wish to push for a myriad of ideas, especially with backing from our international partners, who sometimes forget that Rome was not built in a day, this may simply, be impractical,” Mr Mbabazi said.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the opening of the stakeholders conference on Electoral Reforms orgnanised by the Inter-party Organisations for Dialogue (IPOD), in Mukono yesterday.
In attendance was the Leader of the Opposition in Parlaiment, Mr Wafula Oguttu (FDC), Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA) party president Beti Kamya, DP president Norbert Mao, CP party president Ken Lukyamuzi, UPC president Olara Otunnu and the UN rapporteur on Human rights, Ms Margaret Ssekaggya. Several MPs and academicians were also in attendance.
Mr Mbabazi said government will have to choose between the preffered options and recommend those that deliver results and also fit within the framework of the budget.
He noted the need to focus on the ideal but not lose sight of the realism if democracy is to sustainably grow in Uganda. Mr Mbabazi also warned some electoral reform activists who he said hold extreme views and may wish to push for radical reforms even through Private Members Bills.
A private member’s Bill is a legislation pushed by MPs other than the government. Mr Mbabazi urged stakeholders to work towards building consensus around critical improvements in the electoral laws.
Addressing the workshop, Mr Oguttu, criticised the government for treating opposition members as enemies rather than partners. He said lack of trust by Ugandans in the Electoral Commission to hold free and fair elections may force Ugandans to resort to violent means in a bid to dislodge it.
UPC’s Otunnu said the call for a free and fair election is a non-partisan initiative that needs the participation of all Ugandans, adding that the opposition had put a deadline of end of April to test if government was committed to put in place a system that would ensure free and fair elections.
Ms Kamya blamed the current political problems in the country on the Constitution that gave too much powers to the President.
The Prime Minister assured the opposition that government is ready to receive and consider their proposals as part of the public policy making process.
WHAT OPPOSITION DEMANDS
The opposition this month presented reforms they wish to see implemented. Key among them was the complete overhaul of the Badru Kiggundu-led Electoral Commission, issuance of a new voters’ register taking on board diaspora-based Ugandans and streamlining the role of security forces during elections. They also call for the establishment of a special tribunal to adjudicate presidential election disputes.