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Parliament Clears Presidential Candidates to Get Foreign Funding in New Amendment

Parliament on Thursday removed a clause in the new Presidential Elections Amendment Bill, restricting Presidential Candidates from obtaining material support from foreign entities hostile to the country.

Under Clause 1(b) of the Presidential Elections Amendment Bill, it was expected that Candidates would declare to the Electoral Commission their source of funds two week after nominations.

Under clause 4, presidential candidates or their agents would be prohibited from soliciting, obtaining or receiving funding from foreign governments, institution, body or person that has expressed desire to overthrow the regime of the day.

However, on Wednesday, an overwhelming number of Members of Parliament voted for these provisions to be erased from the amendment bill.

Bugiri Municipality and Justice Forum (JEEMA) President Asuman Basalirwa pointed out that this law was ambiguous on how reactionary elements based in the diaspora would be gazetted.

“Members are asking, what is the yard stick of determining intention? What are these organisations that you don’t want us to seek support from? What are the institutions? This can only be cured if there is a clear provision under this law,” Basalirwa said.

Supplementing on the matter, Opposition Chief Whip Ibrahim Semujju Nganda (FDC) noted that while such a provision exists under the Anti-Terrorism Act, no other government apart from Rwanda in 2006 has been singled out. Such a law, he said, is counterproductive and not tenable for the country’s foreign relations.

“It takes a mad government to begin listing other governments that this one is hostile to me. And after Rwanda in 2005 towards 2006 they have never brought any list,” Semujju noted.

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Maracha County’s Dennis Oguzu Lee (FDC) said granting the minister discretionary powers to determine dangerous outfits would impede free elections.

“We cannot leave such a big decision to an individual to declare at whatever time and say so and so your sources of money are from this kind of entity which intends to overthrow us. To me that would be empowering the minister beyond the tools we need to be able to run a fair and free election,” he added.

Deputy Attorney General Jackson Kafuuzi attempted to make amends but in the end he succumbed to opposition pressure.

Ever since this bill was tabled last year, some observers pointed out that it was targeting People Power’s Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu aka Bobi Wine who has received massive support from his overseas contacts.

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