Uganda: Opposition threatens polls boycott in 2016

By Godfrey Olukya

Posted on Friday, 3 April 2015 14:05

A final road map for Uganda’s 2016 electoral exercise released Wednesday by the country’s electoral commission has come under attack after the opposition criticised the announced election dates.

All I know is that whether they boycott or not, we have the numbers and we will win

The commission said the exercise would start with an update of the voters’ register at constituency level in April before presidential and parliamentary polls slated for 12 February 2016.

Addressing a media conference, acting chairperson of the commission, Joseph Biribonwa said: “The road-map for 2016 elections is ready. All those who took part in the national ID registration exercise will not be allowed to register for 2016 polling exercise but only have to check for their particulars starting 7th to 30th”.

The commission also said the campaign period will last almost four months following the creation of more districts. Campaigning for previous elections was limited to a three-month period.

The opposition parties have rejected the commission’s neutrality, claiming it is biased and partial to President Yoweri Museveni and his ruling party and demanded it be replaced.

“In the electoral law reforms proposals we said that a new electoral commission, appointed on an individual’s merit must be put in place to organise the 2016 elections,” northern Uganda opposition parties spokesman, Felix Ochaya said.

“We will boycott the elections if they do not listen to our concerns.

“We have all along been complaining about a biased electoral commission that has led to opposition losing elections in the past.”

Ochaya, who says it is unlikely the current electoral commission will be replaced before the elections, warned that the opposition is prepared to boycott the exercise and also hold demonstrations.

But ruling party official, James Mugasha says they are not concerned with the opposition’s threat to boycott the 2016 elections.

“It is up to them to decide what they want. All I know is that whether they boycott or not, we have the numbers and we will win.”

According to the commission’s estimates about 255 billion Uganda shillings ($90 million) will be needed to organise the elections.

The opposition says the current electoral commission was appointed by Museveni without consulting them in what they called a unitary move.

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