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CSOs Oppose Move by Parties to Control Independents, Want Presidential Candidate’s Papers Verified by UNEB  

Civil society organizations yesterday tendered in their views about amendments to electoral laws that were tabled by Attorney General William Byaruhanga in July this year.

Part of the proposals tabled by Sarah Bireete, the associate director of Centre for Constitutional Governance foretell signs of a showdown on the issue of independent political actors.

As per the new government proposed amendments, candidates wishing to run as independents will be required to have quit their political party 12 months prior to the election, and to have never belonged to any other registered political entity.

However, Bireete warns that this is a gross violation of five constitutional provisions to deal with rights/ freedom of associations.

According to Bireete, government’s undertaking on this matter contravenes article 72 (4) which grants one opportunity to contest as an independent without seeking permission of a political party.

“Our position is that in the absence of amendments to these 5 articles of the constitution, 2 of which are from the bill of rights, fundamental rights and freedoms of the people, this proposal is regressive, archaic and cannot stand the test”, Bireete says.

CSOs also want Section 28 of the Presidential Elections Amendment Act maintained to allow the distribution of polling materials within forty-eight hours.

They argue that by replacing words ‘within forty-eight hours to polling day’ to ‘at any time’ breeds uncertainty which might result into ballot stuffing, printing of illegal ballots and tampering with election materials.

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The group also want Presidential candidates’ academic qualifications to be verified by respective oversight bodies instead of accrediting institutes.

“We also propose that each of the O and A level copies should be certified by UNEB and the rest of the certificates that qualify under the equivalent should be certified by the National Council for Higher education”

Bireete explains that this will save the tax payers colossal money which has often been lost each time leaders mostly MPs are thrown out by court on pretext of scanty books.

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