Ugandan Opposition party leaders and civil society activists have called for the immediate suspension of the National Identity Card project saying that the exercise is illegal and highly compromised.
While addressing journalists at Parliament, the group said the current exercise is not credible adding that there is need for an authentic, well-organised national registration project which the current exercise lacks.
The group which came together a few months ago to campaign for free and fair elections is concerned that the current exercise has been greatly compromised due to the absence of a policy framework and a legal backing.
Uganda People’s Congress party president Olara Otunnu, who is the leading coordinator of the group, said it is unthinkable that an exercise of this magnitude is being executed in a complete legal and policy vacuum.
The group also is concerned that the fusing of the national ID project with the registration of voters is illegal and suspect saying that Electoral Commission is the only body mandated by the law to conduct an independent register of voters.
Otunnu said they can’t accept that the heavily-flawed national ID project should become a substitute for a proper register of voters adding that the exercise is out-rightly partisan.
Former FDC party leader Dr. Kiiza Besigye said that the project is completely illegal and partisan noting that it is spearheaded by a minister whose appointment is still subject of contention in court. Internal Affairs minister Aronda Nyakairima was appointed minister without retiring from the army as required by the constitution leading to a couple of MPs taking the matter to court.
Besigye said the project is being managed by dubious people who have militarised it by appointing other military individuals and Internal Security operatives as supervisors of the project. He said such a register should not be used as a voter’s register because it has partisan individuals at the top and Local Council one chairpersons, who have been in office since the movement system started, at the bottom.
FDC president Gen Mugisha Muntu said Uganda is being run by someone’s farm adding that the rest of the region has had a regulatory framework before embarking on such an exercise. The party’s secretary for legal affairs, Wandera Ogalo, said that for a project which is meant to capture data of all Ugandans, there was need for strong regulation to make it compulsory.
He also said that under the current exercise, a citizen can’t seek redress if aggrieved by a registrar adding that the legal framework was also necessary to clearly outline the requirements. He says that due to the absence of the framework, different registrars are asking for different requirements which he says have made it irregular.
The group therefore suggests that the exercise be suspended to allow for critical rectifications saying that the leader of opposition has a bill drafted for the same.
Registration for the National IDs started on 14th April and is expected to last four months.