Military and police ask for separate polling dates

1841 Views Gulu, Uganda
The army and the police have asked for separate polling dates arguing that they are often denied their voting rights. They complain that they are always deployed on election day, sometimes far away from their polling stations leaving them no opportunity to cast their votes. Charles Tumusiime, the regional intelligence officer in charge of northern Uganda complains that soldiers are often denied their voting rights whenever it comes to election. Tumusiime argues that there is a need for a provision allowing soldiers to exercise their voting rights. He added that polling stations that were previously established inside military facilities have since been removed leaving soldiers on duty with no option when time for voting comes. Nelson Lakor, a police constable in Gulu shares Tumusiime's worries. He explains that in 2006 he failed to vote after he was deployed to guard a polling station many kilometers from where he had registered as a voter. As a result, Lakor complained that he did not participate in electing a leader of his choice. He added that although they are expected to exhibit no bias in the course of their duty, they also have choices of leaders they want. Kale Kayihura, the Inspector General of Police has admitted that the concerns of the members of the forces need to be addressed but did not specify what measures would be taken to ensure those deployed away on duty cast their votes. Peter Mugisha, the army spokesperson for northern Ugand,a says there is need to amend the electoral laws in order to allocate separate days for the forces to cast their votes like a day prior to the main voting day. Mugisha argues that most countries like Egypt and Ghana are already practicing the system of separate voting days for the military and police. //Cue in: "In other countries...: Cue out: "...then you sacrifice."// David Anyanzo Butti, the electoral comission's Gulu district registrar, says that the concern is genuine but adds that until the law is amended the soldiers and the police deployed on duty on election day would continue to miss to cast their votes. The electoral commission has fixed dates for the general elections between February 18 and March 7 next year.