Ever since Attorney General William Byaruhanga tabled four electoral bills last week, the media and the public was sucked into passionate discourse on some of the amendments therein, which today he came out to dismiss as false.
Byaruhanga on Tuesday condemned a section of the mainstream media outlets for propagating falsified information.
“Since 25th of July when the electoral bills were tabled before parliament there have been a number of misrepresentations on the contents, arising from the failure to read or access the bill”, he said.
Byaruhanga who was flanked by Mwesigwa Rukutana his deputy cited four clauses contained in different bills that were misrepresented.
These include; prohibition of cell phones and cameras from polling centers, banning independents from allying with political parties, early voting by security personnel and restriction of declaration results to the presence of only 5 voters.
Byaruhanga says the above cited provisions state otherwise in the draft laws.
On the issue of independents, he says government is not specifically targeting independents like Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu the Kyadondo MP.
Instead, Byaruhanga says this provision only seeks to regulate their relationship with registered political vehicles and not as stated.
“If Bobi Wine in particular that you people keep on referring to was here, he should buy me a beer. He is an independent but he is hobnobbing with other political parties. And we are saying that he can do that,” Byaruhanga said.
Clause 10 (A) of the Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill 2019, provides for a person to stand as an independent if one is not a registered member of any political party or ceased being one.
For those that have held party cards or are linked to political parties, they must forfeit membership to contest on independent ticket under Section 10A (1a).
The reforms Byaruhanga said are a fulfilment of recommendations by the Supreme Court in the Amama Mbabazi vs Yoweri Museveni election petition.
“They were all addressed in the bills specifically contained in clause 1, 7 and 13 of the presidential elections amendment bill of 2019. And also, in clause 2 of the electoral commission amendment bill 2019” he elaborates.
Byaruhanga says the draft laws are an addition to the above mentioned measures compliment earlier recommendations amended under the constitutional amendment act of 2018 commonly referred to as the Magezi bill.
However, he appeared to acknowledge reluctance saying access to these bills was limited because of the hurried manner in which these bills were tabled.
“It is true that we didn’t have 500 copies simply because our team was working till the end to make those amendments”, Byaruhanga admits.
Though this was the case, he says it was very unfortunate of journalists to concoct their own clause.
“The only reason we decided to call this press conference was to clear some factual errors in regard to what was going on pertaining to the electoral reform bills that I presented to parliament last week. As most of you well know I presented them on the 25th because there was a deadline”.
“The honorable Rukutana and Kahinda Otafiire the minister of constitutional affairs were not around so I appeared in parliament on the 25th to present the electoral reform bills. There has been a debate going on both in the main media and social media about certain proposals by the government. Which proposals were being wrongly criticized as being very unreasonable. So my main purpose this afterenoon is simply to clear the air on that particular aspect”
“The recommendations of the supreme court unlike what some you are saying are there if you took time to read. These reforms also are an addition to the recommendations that parliament handled under the constitutional amendment act of 2018. Since 25th of July when the electoral bills were tabled before parliament there have been a number of misrepresentations on the contents of the bill arising from the failure to read or access the bill.