The Electoral Commission has expressed how the new constituencies recently passed by Parliament have had an effect on the electoral roadmap for the 2021 general elections.
EC chairman Justice Simon Byabakama has on Friday said that the Commission had only planned for 296 constituencies and not 353.
“About 2 days ago, we received the official prescription of the number of constituencies in the country. As of early this week, we had 296 constituencies as prescribed by Parliament. In the communication we received this week, the number of constituencies is now 353 including all these new counties,” said Byabakama.
“As Electoral Commission, we are on the drawing board again because these latest entrants do present us with challenges since we had already drawn the program (the roadmap) premised on 296 constituencies,” he further explained.
Byabakama noted that the new developments need planning as per the 2021 general elections arrangements and as such, the Commission is starting the process all over again.
“Now you have an addition of so many to make 353. It means we have to get back to the drawing board,” he added.
Byabakama also noted that the decision by Parliament to pass new constituencies will make the Commission inflate its budget.
“These new entrants mean that we have to revise our budget upwards.”
While Byabakama noted that recently passed new constituencies by Parliament have interfered with the electoral process, he said the Commission will utilize whatever little time it has to ensure the electorate in new constituencies are not disenfranchised.
RDCs interfering in elections
Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) who happen to be heads of security at the districts have the record of interfering in elections by among others stopping opposition politicians from appearing on radio and TV stations.
The most recent one is the interdicted Jinja district RDC Eric Sakwa who on several occasions blocked and arrested veteran politician Dr Kizza Besigye from appearing on radio stations in Jinja.
Byabakama said the Electoral Commission will address the matter through the Minister for Presidency to ensure RDCs don’t jeopardize the electoral process.
“We need security in times of elections. However, we should not misinterpret that to mean you can interfere or prevent a process that has been put in place to ensure that the electorate and the voters get to know one another. I don’t think an RDC will switch off a radio during campaigns,” he said.
While he said that RDCs should not interfere in the elections, Byabakama cautioned other players in the electoral process especially candidates against spreading tribal sentiments.