EC Nominations in Bad Faith - MPs

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In short
Some Members of Parliament have described the nomination of Justice Simon Byabakama and five other members of the Electoral Commission as a move to undermine repeated calls for electoral reforms.

Some Members of Parliament have described the nomination of new members of the Electoral Commission as a move to undermine repeated calls for electoral reforms.
President Yoweri Museveni today nominated six new commissioners to the Electoral Commission, days after the Badru Kiggundu-led commission retired.
Simon Mugenyi Byabakama, a Justice of the Court of Appeal, is to head the new Commission, deputised by Hajjati Aisha Lubega, a former head mistress at Nabisunsa Girls School. The other commissioners are Peter Emorut, Stephen Tashobya, Prof George Piwang and Mustapha Ssebagala.
The new appointees replace six commissioners led by Engineer Badru Kiggundu who retired two days ago after serving in this capacity since November 28, 2002.
The names of the nominees have been sent to Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga for consideration and approval by parliament's appointments committee.
But some legislators feel the move by President Museveni ignores the wider call for reforms.
"I think their appointment is in bad faith, in total disregard of the need for us to solve the political question in this country and come to an understanding that the ground rules for conducting elections in this country are properly agreed upon," says Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga.
Mpuuga says that if the appointments committee goes ahead to approve the nominees, they should remain in acting capacity awaiting comprehensive constitutional and electoral reforms. 
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At the end of the ninth parliament, there were debates relating to the structure, composition and the manner of appointing commissioners to the Electoral Commission. The opposition and Civil Society Organisations had proposed several electoral reforms for consideration before the 2016 general elections.
Key among their proposals was to amend Article 60 of the Constitution to ensure that appointment of the commissioners follow a process of open application, public hearings and scrutiny conducted by the Judicial Service Commission.
However, this and other proposed reforms were not adopted since the opposition was over powered by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party numbers in parliament. It was however, agreed that a Constitutional Review Commission would be set up to consider all proposed constitutional and electoral reforms.
MP Mpuuga recollects this understanding on the floor of parliament.
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Ayivu County MP Benard Atiku says the new nominations are an opportunity for parliament to start a discussion on the proposed reforms in electoral laws.
The MP proposed that the approval of the new nominees be halted until the required reforms are debated and put in place.
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However, the Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya said that halting the approval of the newly nominated commissioners would delay the Local Council 1 elections scheduled for January 2017.
He suggested that these should be approved by parliament as the debate for electoral reforms continues.
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Bugangayizi East MP Onesmus Twinamasiko, however, described the newly nominated EC chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama as a man of integrity who has an impeccable record of handling assignments at hand. 


About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.