American diplomat insists on EC change

Sunday May 23 2010

By Isaac Khisa

American Diplomat Jonnie Carson has insisted that the new Electoral Commission be reconstituted ahead of next year’s general elections.
Mr Carson, who met members of the Inter-Party Cooperation in Kampala on Friday, said Uganda’s general elections will also be judged basing on the international standards.

“The ambassador reiterated the US commitment to democracy as well as free and fair elections,” Mr Olara Otunnu, Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) president, said shortly after the meeting.

He said Mr Carson promised to ensure proper leadership in Uganda, with all citizens enjoying their fundamental rights of freedom to expression, free media and movement of people.

“Mr Carson influenced the removal of the Nigerian Electoral Commission which was not even worse that this of Uganda,” Mr Otunnu said, adding that what happened in Nigeria weeks ago will happen in Uganda.

This comes a day after Mr Museveni, according to a statement issued by State House on Thursday, defended the EC boss, Eng. Badru Kiggundu and his other six commissioners as professionals properly vetted by Parliament’s Appointments Committee, comprising opposition MPs.

But Mr Otunnu said: “It is not President Museveni to decide whether the current EC should be disbanded. The people of Uganda have decided that the current EC is fraudulent, it is not independent and it is illegal. And it is not an issue of negotiation.” Mr Otunnu said.

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People’s demands
He said the situation in the country has now changed and people’s demands cannot be ignored anymore.

IPC was formed last year consisting of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Conservative Party (CP) and Justice Forum (JEEMA) for joint electoral reform.

The UPC leader, however, denied allegations that IPC plans to boycott the general elections. Since the 2001 and 2006 general elections were held, several cases have been registered challenging the independence and credibility of the EC.

Mr Otunnu further said the ongoing registration process is in shambles and should be repeated with a new EC. He said areas concerning the creation of new polling stations and EC staffing will have to be reviewed.

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