Thursday January 6 2011

FDC protests ballot paper format

By Sheila Naturinda

Kampala

The Forum for Democratic Change has protested and questioned the format the Electoral Commission has used to arrange candidates’ names on the presidential ballot papers.

The provisional ballot paper, seen by this newspaper, has People’s Development party candidate, Abed Bwanika’s name at the top, while incumbent President Museveni is at the bottom.

Dr Bwanika is followed by FDC’s Kizza Besigye. Uganda Federal Alliance’s Beti Kamya’s name comes third, Norbert Mao of the Democratic Party is fourth, followed by Bidandi Ssali of the Peoples’ Progressive Party on the lineup that also sees Olara Otunnu in sixth and independent Sam Lubega preceding candidate Museveni.

The petition
In their December 30 letter to the EC, the opposition seeks to know “how the names were arranged to appear on the ballot paper.” They, however, do not give their preferences.

Ballot papers for the February 17 and 18 polls are expected in the country in a fortnight. According to EC secretary Sam Rwakoojo, the format of putting names on the ballot paper depends on how candidates present their names to the commission during nomination. “We cannot arrange the names for them because we don’t know which of those names is a first name or not,” Mr Rwakoojo said.

On January 3, the commission replied to the FDC in a letter signed by EC chairman, Dr Badru Kiggundu. “The order is done in accordance with section 12(1)(b) of the Electoral Commission Act, 1997 as amended.” It adds: “And in line with the preferences made by the candidates on their nomination particulars.”

EC to the dock
Meanwhile. the EC confirmed receiving the court plaint by FDC suit over failure to issue voters’ cards and said they are in the process of filing their defence. “If you insist on having voters’ cards, that could be a recipe for disfranchising voters who have lost their cards,” Mr Rwakoojo said. The case will be heard on January 12 before Justice Eldad Mwangushya.