Parliament passes Electoral Reforms ahead of the 2021 General Elections
On the 5th March, 2020 Parliament passed two bills that were remaining of the five electoral reforms ahead of the 2021 general elections. The other three bills were passed in the proceeding sittings. The bills were passed with amendments. Here are the key highlights on the reforms:
The Presidential Elections Amendment Bill 2019:
Clause 3 was deleted. It proposed that a person is only eligible to stand for election as an independent candidate if that person is not a member of a registered political party or organization, having ceased to be a member of a political party or organisation before nomination day, having had his or her membership of a political party or organisation terminated before the nomination day or having never been registered as a member of a political party or organization.
Clause 6 was deleted. This proposed prohibition of Presidential candidates from receiving funding from a foreign government.
Clause 13 was also deleted; this clause was intended to bar the President from giving donations during election period.
Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill, 2019:
The clauses that provided for the eligibility of candidates, similar to those deleted in the Presidential Elections Amendment Bill, were also deleted from the Parliamentary Elections Bill and the subsequent bills.
Clause 1 was amended to provide that where a new district or constituency is created after the general parliamentary elections, the elections to fill the vacant elective position for the district or constituency Member of Parliament shall be held at the next general parliamentary elections.
The nomination fee for the candidates for Parliamentary Elections was maintained at 3,000,000 Uganda shillings.
The Electoral Commission Amendment Bill, 2019:
The amendment provides for electronic display of election results for the candidates during the tallying process to ensure transparency of the process.
According to this new law, in case of an electoral petition and it is found that the Electoral Returning Officer is personally responsible for the irregularities, he/she is liable to pay a proportion of the compensation. This serves as punishment for returning officers who get involved in election malpractice.
The Local Governments Amendment Bill, 2019:
The amendment provides that the in a situation where a new Local Government or administrative unit is created after the local Government council elections, the elections to fill the elective positions in the newly created local Governments or administrative unit shall be held at the next Local Government Council elections.
Clause 7 was amended setting the minimum qualifications for Sub-County Chairpersons at O’Level. The Mayors of Cities, Municipalities and Divisions are also expected to meet this requirement. Only the Councilors were exempted from these requirements with the new amendment.
The Political Parties and Organisations Amendment Bill, 2019:
With this amendment, each political party is responsible for the code of conduct of its candidates’ supporters during the electoral processes.
In this law, members of Political parties their supporters will be banned from intimidating, disrupting meetings or rallies of any member or supporter of the person affiliated to other parties and organizations.