The Electoral Commission has been accused of failure to involve stakeholders like political parties, civil society or even the aspirants in recasting the new electoral roadmap released this morning in Kampala.
Former CCEDU National Coordinator Crispin Kaheru says that as has been the norm in the past, this time the electoral commission sat alone without consulting anyone and passed the roadmap, and that will not be surprising if some players reject elements of the roadmap.
The EC chairman Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon released the 2021 electoral roadmap indicating that the General Elections will take place from 10th January - 8th February 2021 and that the entire process will be done scientifically, without mass rallies.
Starting Monday 22nd June 2020, political parties will identify flag bearers. The exercise will last one month until July 21st 2020.
Public servants wishing to participate in Special Interest Groups (SIGs) Committees Elections have up to 29th June 2020 to handover office. On 5th August 2020, the EC will carry out nomination of Village SIGs (Older Persons, Persons with Disability and Youth) Committees Candidates (see attached detailed for progressive levels up to National).
Aspiring Candidates for Local Government have up to 7th July 2020 establish academic papers with Electoral Commission, Parliamentary candidates have up to 11th August 2020, while the Presidential candidates have up to 1st September 2020 to do the same.
Deadline for resignation by public servants aspiring to contest for Parliamentary Elections 12th July 2020, public servants aspiring to contest for Local Government Councils Elections 6th August 2020, public servants aspiring to contest for SIG Representative to Parliament 7th August 2020 and public servants aspiring to contest for Presidential Elections 31st October 2020.
According to the new roadmap, the period for nomination of candidates for Local Governments, including SIGs will be from 7th - 17th September 2020, Candidates for Parliamentary Elections will be nominated on 12th - 13th October 2020 and nomination of Candidates for Presidential Elections 2nd - 3rd November 2020.
Unlike in the past where candidates traversed the country and their constituencies, this time round all campaigns will be conducted digitally.
For Local Government, campaigns will begin on 28th September 2020 up to 8th January 2021, Parliamentary Election campaigns will go from 20th October 2020 to 8th January 2021 while Presidential Election campaigns will take place from 10th November 2020 – 8th January 2021.
“Mass rallies will not be allowed but campaigns will be conducted mainly through media” Byabakama reiterated.
However, while Kaheru argues that stakeholders were not consulted, the EC chairman says the Roadmap has been revised with careful consideration of the operational requirements for the electoral activities and the legal framework governing the conduct of elections, however, under reduced timeframes.
“Given the Covid-19 pandemic, and health risks involved and the expectations during the electoral activities, preparations and conduct of these elections will take different modes. The Commission has done a risk analysis, the implications and instituted mitigation measures in line with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health. We have also considered the need to preserve the health of the Citizens vis a vis their constitutional and democratic right to elect leaders of their choice as guaranteed under the Constitution, and come up with a plan that ensures minimal person-to-person contact during the implementation of the electoral process” he added.
However, Kaheru says the commission has not allocated candidates enough time for campaigns and that this is unfair.
“The electoral preparations are starting off from a ‘complicated place’. They are happening in an environment of restrictions. Political players can’t move, they can’t assemble – because of the Covid-19 motivated controls. And yet, elections are about freedom of movement and assembly. Preparations are further jeopardized by the timelines. The time for election activities after the Covid-19 interruption is too short. Elections are like a soccer match. If a game is going to be reduced from 90 to 60 minutes, then players should be consulted” Kaheru argued.