‘Debate on EC leadership useless without reforms’

Wednesday November 23 2016

Don’t be excited. Former presidential candidate

Don’t be excited. Former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye addresses journalists at his home in Kasangati, Wakiso District, yesterday. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

By Stephen Kafeero & Alfred Tumushabe

Kampala. Opposition leader Kizza Besigye has scoffed at President Museveni’s recent appointments of Electoral Commissioners describing it as “irrelevant” as the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) announces countrywide rallies calling for change.
In a November 14 letter to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, President Museveni appointed Court of Appeal Judge Simon Mugenyi Byabakama to replace Dr Badru Kiggundu as EC chair.
The other appointees are Hajjat Aisha Lubega (vice chairperson) and Commissioners Peter Emorut, Steven Tashobya, Prof George Piwang and Mustapha Ssebaggala Kigozi.
The new appointees will join Ms Justin A. Mugabi, whose tenure at EC is yet to expire.
But the former presidential candidate, who was speaking to journalists at his Kasangati home, in Wakiso District said under the current system, the “new” EC like other institutions “can only service the dictator”.
“I have been seeing the debate about the Electoral Commission whether these are good commissioners or not. It is an irrelevant debate,” he said.
He urged Ugandans not to be excited about the leadership at the electoral body but focus on electoral reforms.
“It doesn’t matter, they will all be some form of Kiggundus regardless of whether they have big or small eyes.”
Dr Besigye wondered how anybody could start questioning the quality of EC appointees when they are appointed by “an illegitimate president”.
He said the EC cannot function well given the structure of the State and the contention on the appointing authority. FDC party and Dr Besigye as the party’s presidential flag bearer in the 2016 polls, have consistently called for an independent audit of the 2016 polls, which they claim Dr Besigye won.
However, the Supreme Court upheld the EC results in which President Museveni was declared president.
Speaking about the new EC appointments, Information and ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze warned the Opposition against blaming their woes on the EC.
“It’s a good team that am sure will act as an impartial umpire. Let politicians stop using the EC as a scapegoat when they fail to win the hearts of the citizens,” he said.
In 2015, the ruling National Resistance Movement and the main six joint Opposition parties announced they had agreed on 43 out of the 48 proposed electoral reforms ahead of the February 18 polls.
Despite the consensus reached under the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD), none of the proposed reforms formed part of the constitutional amendment bill passed ahead of the elections.
Parliament is yet to set a date when the new EC commissioners appointed by President Museveni will be vetted.

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