EC has no powers to force M7 out of power – Byabakama

Byabakama made the clarification on 15 June during the IGAD Youth Symposium organized at Makerere University where he gave a keynote address focusing on the crucial role of youth in Uganda’s electoral process.

The Uganda Electoral Commission (EC) has no mandate to force any leader out of power on an account of overstay as it is being prayed for by a section of Ugandan youth, the commission’s Chairman Justice Simon Byabakama has said.

Byabakama made the clarification on 15 June during the IGAD Youth Symposium organized at Makerere University where he gave a keynote address focusing on the crucial role of youth in Uganda’s electoral process.

During the interactive engagement, students fired questions to the Chairperson and some went on to criticise the EC for watching idly as the country continues to be led by one man—President Yoweri Museveni—for over 35 years and still counting.

Some of the participants prayed for the EC to enforce the exit of leaders who have over stayed in power to bolster their winning chances once they offer themselves as candidates in the election process.

Responding, Justice Byabakama said this is not part of the EC’s mandate, undemocratic and it will never be.

“In any democracy, the exit of a leader is determined by voters and not the Electoral Commission,” Justice Byabakama said and further clarified that the EC’s mandate is only to organise and conduct regular, free and fair elections professionally, impartially and efficiently; announce results and eventually declare the winner.

Byabakama however, offered some tips to the youth on how to overcome leaders who hold on to power.

One of them is to actively participate in the electoral process by offering themselves as candidates. Another is to vote wisely at the time of voting.

Justice Byabakama further condemned the involvement of youth in electoral violence and asked all well intentioned Ugandans to vigorously campaign against the vice.

He decried the manipulation by individuals who incite the youth into political violence for personal gain.

“We must identify instigators of political violence among the youth and deal with them decisively through the law….No one wants to have a bloody election as a process,” he said .

His concern was reiterated by Sam Ogwal, the IGAD youth, who said: “The nature of our chaotic electoral process must be urgently addressed as we approach 2026… Beyond the elections, our actions define our future. Let us commit to peaceful engagement, constructive dialogue and active participation.”

Justice Byabakama also addressed the  militarisation of Ugandan politics, a concern  raised by the youth and in particular Jeremiah Keeya Mwanje, the Lord Councillor Representing Kasubi to City Hall and also the Secretary of Elections Management committee at National Unity Platform (NUP) who had requested EC to take over security during the electoral process.

He in turn advised the youth to instead bear with them for the sake of a peaceful electoral process.

“In Uganda, you can’t hold elections without using the security organs, that’s why we always use the police. However, the constitution allows the police to use other enforcement as they are doing their work, but we as the commission always caution them to follow the law as they do their work,” he stressed during the symposium which was part of the ongoing voter education outreach program in primary, secondary schools and institutions of higher learning to sensitize the pupils and students on elections in order to enhance their participation.

With the youth commanding nearly 70% of the population in the country, Justice Byabakama reminded them of their civic responsibilities, referencing Article 59 of the Ugandan Constitution and also encouraged them to maximize their potential during the electoral process by participating as voters and as well as candidates.

The EC Chair also reminded the youth to love their country before appealing to them to work towards a united, stable, peaceful, and prosperous Uganda committed to socio-economic transformation.

“I give thanks to God everyday for having been born a Ugandan. Because I believe this is the best country in the whole world.  Even Churchill [former UK Prime Minister] never found good tarmac roads, buildings, homes etc but he called it ‘the Pearl of Africa’ for its beauty, abundant wildlife and diversity. This is a wonderful country. Let all of you be proud of your country and have a sense of ownership. Once I am out of EC, I want to continue living peacefully in Uganda.”

The IGAD capacity-building symposium aimed at equipping youth leaders with the essential skills and knowledge to ensure peaceful, secure, and fair elections during the 2025–2026 national elections.

EC OUTREACH PROGRAMS

In accordance with Article 61, (g) of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda as amended, the EC is mandated to formulate and implement voter educational programs relating to elections.

In conducting its work, the Commission is guided by its vision “To be a Model Institution and Centre of Excellence in Election Management” and mission “To efficiently organize, conduct and supervise regular free, fair and transparent Elections and Referenda to enhance Democracy and Good Governance.”

The specific objectives of the voter education outreach program in primary schools, secondary schools and institutions of higher learning include; i) equipping pupils and students with electoral information in order to enhance their participation in elections; ii) sensitizing pupils and students about their rights and responsibilities in the electoral process and iii) enhancing understanding of the electoral process and laws governing elections.

 

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