A decision by Parliament to vote to scrap government facilitation for campaigns of presidential candidates has rubbed some presidential aspirants the wrong way.
A number of presidential aspirants have described as selfish the decision to amend the Presidential Elections Amendment Bill 2015 not to give facilitation erstwhile provided by the Electoral Commission (EC) to each candidate towards election activities.
The EC last week tabled proposals before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, to increase facilitation to the candidates from 20 million Shillings and a vehicle to a consolidated amount of 50 million shillings.
However, legislators on Wednesday evening voted to have the facilitation removed to bar what they termed as jokers who had turned the presidential race into a money minting project.
Presidential aspirant, Prof Venansius Baryamureeba, too was not happy with the new laws.
He started by blaming Electoral Commission for allowing Presidential candidates within political parties to publicly campaign amongst all Ugandans yet at the same time denying the independents the same opportunity.
“The ridiculous argument by the Electoral Commission was that independents couldn’t compete against themselves. This was abuse of the independents’ inherent right to associate and express themselves amongst the potential voters.”
He said this was followed by the Electoral Commission coming up with its own ridiculous interpretation of public consultations as consultations that cannot be conducted at a rally or public meeting as this would result into campaign.
“One wondered what would happen when a community of 100,000 Ugandans wanted to publicly consult a Presidential Aspirant? Would they be restricted to a town hall meeting?”
He noted that according to new law, Presidential Candidates shall need votes from every district of Uganda, which would require them to campaign in every district for at least one day.
“Rumor has it that the Electoral Commission is planning to reduce the campaign period from about four months to just below two months by postponing the nomination dates from 5th and 6th October 2015 to a later date.”
The reason being advanced is that it will be expensive for presidential candidates to campaign for 4 months.
I wonder why the Electoral Commission would be concerned about the cost to be met by the Presidential Candidates in running their campaigns, Barya pointed out [EC won’t pay campaign money to candidates according to the new law].
He said this would imply that rigging will take place before voting, as presidential candidates with exception of President Museveni shall be denied the right to canvass for votes by the Electoral Commission from each district of Uganda by design.
Buikwe South MP, Michael Lulume Bayiga, says increasing nomination fees for parliamentary candidates from Shs 200,000 to Shs 3m was done “in bad faith”.
He told journalists at parliament that, the reason MPs especially from the ruling NRM party endorsed the high charge on candidates is to frustrate the poor political parties from fronting candidates to participate in the elections.
“Some people have been in government for 30 years like Amama Mbabazi and his TDA group so they have the money and can successfully run campaigns. We call upon parliament to pass laws which are fair,” he said.
He said such amount to too much for political parties like Democratic Party to pay and therefore many of its members were going to be eliminated from contesting in the elections since they cannot afford.
Museveni signs the bills
Despite the protests from aspirants, President Yoweri Museveni signed elections bills into law yesterday.
The Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige, says the three Bills signed into law effective October 1, 2015 are: The Presidential Elections (Amendment Bill) Parliamentary Elections (Amendments Bill) and Electoral Commission (Amendment Bill 2015).