Why M7 Tabled Poll Reforms
A recent decision by the national Electoral Commission headed by Badru Kiggundu to call for presidential aspirants to pick forms has disorganized the political game plan by NRM; Red Pepper exclusively reveals.
As a result, the ruling party has been forced to come up with new reforms that will see several changes in the current electoral process.
In fact, our sources tell us that because of this pressure, even the current set up of EC is likely to change with new faces coming up.
Our sources have told us that former leader of opposition in parliament Prof. Morris Ogenga Latigo is tipped for a fat appointment by the president in the EC if pressure on poll reforms allegedly continues.
In a poorly attended special sitting of parliament chaired by speaker Rebecca Kadaga, attorney general Freddie Ruhindi tabled three election amendment bills that will see changes in nomination fees, polling times and permitting polling officers to vote.
The tabled bills include the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2015 which seeks to revise the nomination fees; provide for closure of polls at 4.00pm and to provide for persons engaged in the electoral activities or on duty in specific professions or areas to vote.
The Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill seeks to revise nominations fees for a Presidential candidate from 8m shillings to 20million shillings.
The Bill also seeks to remove the requirement for Presidential candidates to campaign in every district as well as increasing the facilitation of candidates from 20m to 50million shillings.
The Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill seeks to revise nomination fees from 200,000 shillings to 1million shillings.
The speaker sent the three bills to the legal and parliamentary Affairs committee for scrutiny and report to parliament on Friday this week.
WHY NEW REFORMS
Our insiders told us that when the EC decided to call for presidential aspirants to pick forms, the entity never consulted government on this matter.
In all its expectations, government had allegedly planned to have not more than five people in the presidential race.
However, the EC chose to open up the process calling for aspirants to pick forms without due regard to its resource envelop.
In its plan, government had allegedly planned for only five candidates in terms of facilitation including cars, security and above all, ballots!
However, Kiggundu allegedly opened up the process allowing every tom, dick and harry to pick forms.
This therefore resulted into congestion of the presidential race.
“The government had planned for about five candidates but now, there are over 50 people who have picked forms. Where is the facilitation going to come from? Government wasn’t prepared for this crisis. How could they give forms to someone who came on a bodaboda?” sources told us.
Our sources told us that; the most intriguing issue to the ruling party is that some of the aspirants have allegedly been sponsored with a view of congesting the ballot box.
By congesting it, the plan is to eat into Museveni’s vote strategy where he has always appeared last on the ballot paper.
By appearing number last on the ballot, it becomes easier for the ruling party to tell illiterate voters to vote for Museveni by telling them to simply tick the person appearing last or first on the ballot paper.
Museveni allegedly usually plays with letters Y,K,M to achieve his desires on the ballot paper where he appears number last!
However, with the emergence of new entrants on the race, some of them have got names that threaten this strategy yet his nemesis Amama Mbabazi might appear number one on the ballot.
Therefore it is feared that the president is going to be sandwiched by the congested ballot paper.
“Out of the 50 candidates, we are sure that about 15 might be disqualified or might fail to meet the requirements. What about the balance of 40 candidates? This means the president’s strategy during elections [appearing number last] has been tampered with by the EC. It therefore calls for new reforms into the election of the president,” sources stated.
Our sources told us that among the new proposals that are being looked at in these reforms is that which; seeks to outlaw a requirement by EC to print names of presidential candidates in alphabetical order on the ballot paper.
The NRM strategists want the EC to be given powers to decide on its own how it arranges candidates on the ballot paper.
Some NRM fundamentalists are even pushing an amendment ordering the EC to print the ballot papers with the sitting president appearing number one on the paper.
This is being premised on the fact that the incumbent continues to execute national duties even during campaigns.
“Some strategists say that instead of dictating to EC to put the incumbent as number one on the ballot, an amendment should be passed giving the EC powers to decide on how to arrange the names of the aspirants on the ballot paper without following alphabetical order. This would automatically mean that the incumbent will either be number last or first on the paper than now when this is being threatened” insiders told us.
We have learnt that though this wasn’t included in the bills, it is one of the proposals being considered for inclusion in the amendments which are now before the legal and parliamentary affairs committee.
Our sources stated that the anti-Museveni forces led by Amama Mbabazi actually fronted some of these aspirants with a view of congesting the ballot paper hence denying Museveni a chance to appear number last or first if EC goes ahead to present names alphabetically.