Sunday February 9 2014

There can never be free polls - EC

By Henry Mukasa &Tabitha Kibelebele


The Electoral Commission (EC) has said there can never be free and fair elections.
“We talk about democracy but the most important thing is perception because there can never be free and fair elections anywhere in the world,” Electoral Commission Secretary, Sam Rwakoojo told a meeting the EC organised to interact with media editors on Friday.

The EC deputy Chairperson, Mr Joseph Biribonwa, said the media, just like the police, politicians and voters, are key stakeholders in the electoral process.
He said the EC issued its 2016 roadmap early to identify any mishaps in time.
The EC promised to train journalists in election reporting.
Mr Rwakoojo said the messages sent out prior or during the electoral process affects the credibility of the polls even when their claims are wild or outrightly wrong.

He said when a vehicle breaks down delivering election materials to Arua, whether it’s interpreted as a mechanical breakdown or a ploy determines how the final results will be received.
The official admitted that some election officials may not be perfect in the execution of their work and there are incidents where some connive with favoured candidates.

He also conceded the effect delayed opening of polling stations has, but hastened to add that the EC hands are tied.
“You open a polling station early, someone takes advantage. You open late you are accused of delaying polling materials. You are doomed if you do, you are doomed if you don’t.”
Mr Rwakoojo said with the national identity cards issues, biometrics will be used to eradicate double registration and hence voting.