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EC launches roadmap for 2025/2026 general elections

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Simon Kabayo
Simon Kabayohttps://eagle.co.ug
Reporter whose work is detailed

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Justice Byabakama Mugenyi Simon has today launched the Electoral Commission Strategic Plan 2022/2023-2026/2027 and Roadmap for the 2025/2026 General Elections at Hotel Africana.

The objective of this Strategic Plan and Roadmap is to provide clear communication of priority areas in the Election Cycle with the aim of improving operational efficiency and stakeholder awareness and participation, by seeking to build on the positive reforms and innovations introduced in the last general elections.

Speaking at the event, Justice Byabakama echoed on the 2020/2021 General Elections, which were organized under extraordinary circumstances owing to the #Covid-19 pandemic and applauded the members of the Commission, the Management team, and the entire EC fraternity for the commitment showed while planning and carrying out Commission assignments, which were characteristically very demanding.

“These elections were unique because the risks associated with the pandemic required us to conduct electoral activities under reduced and limited timeframes and modified guidelines. Furthermore, there was an increase in cost to provide for #Covid-19 safety measures at all electoral activity areas, public mobilization, sensitization, and enforcement, as well as safety materials at all electoral centers. The Commission appreciates the Government for providing the funding that enabled us to deliver the elections within the Constitutional timelines,” Byabakama said.

The Electoral Commission is established under Article 60 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda. Under Article 61 of the same Constitution the Commission is mandated to, among others, ensure that regular, free, and fair elections and referenda are held.

In so doing, the Commission is required to conduct the various activities within specified timelines as stipulated in the Constitution and other Electoral Laws.

Byabakama clarified that under Article 61 (2), the Commission must conduct general elections for Presidential, Parliamentary, and Local Government Council elections within the first thirty (30) days of the last one hundred and twenty-two (122) days before the expiration of the term of the President, Parliament or Local Government Councils as the case may be.

He added that the Commission must, therefore, set particular timelines for purposes of proper planning, management, and organization of elections and it is in this spirit that the Commission is launching the Strategic Plan and Roadmap we are here to witness.

“Since our establishment by the Constitution, the Commission has organized and conducted six (6) general elections (1996, 2001, 2006, 2011, 2016, and 2021) as well as two referenda on political systems (2000 and 2005), and several Parliamentary and Local Government Councils elections and by-elections,” he said.

“The Strategic Plan we are launching today is a result of extensive research and stakeholder consultation. Following the conclusion of the 2020/2021 General Elections, the Commission conducted Post-Election Evaluation workshops across the Country with various key stakeholders in the electoral process. The stakeholders gave us their own honest assessments on how the electoral process and the conduct of the 2020/2021 General Elections were done,” Byabakama noted

The Commission further conducted its own self-assessment by engaging the own staff to give their opinions on the conduct of the last General Elections and subsequent by-elections. The recommendations from various election observer reports were keenly studied, as well as the recommendations from Court decisions and all this was done to improve the election management.

Some of the strengths identified during these evaluations include: Government commitment to fund the electoral process; an enabling legal framework; an experienced and knowledgeable workforce; Good working relationship between the members of the Commission and Staff; forward planning through project approach and roadmap for electoral activities; and, Availability and use of technology.

The Commission also identified the following challenges: Delayed enactment/amendment of electoral laws; Continuous creation of administrative units which brings about an increase in costs; Inadequate training of temporary election officials as a result of limited funds; inadequate voter education because of insufficient funds.

Justice Byabakama said that these evaluations and self-assessments were in line with the practice of the Commission, and it is from this background that the Commission has been able to introduce new innovations and improvements in election management. To us, every election provides lessons for the next one.

The Plan and Roadmap also aim at enhancing organizational and staff capacity planning.

He further noted that organizing and conducting Presidential, Parliamentary, and Local Government Councils Elections is a huge and expensive exercise, particularly when it is funded in one year. The Strategic Plan is, therefore, designed to enable phased funding of key election activities, which will reduce funding pressure on the Government and facilitate the Commission to conduct the elections in a smooth manner.

The detailed objectives of this Strategic Plan are to:

a) Enhance inclusive citizen participation in the electoral process;

b) Strengthen stakeholder collaboration and engagement in the electoral process;

c) Deliver regular free and fair elections and referenda;

d) Improve timely, gender and equity responsive and accurate information sharing, public trust, and confidence in the electoral process; and,

e) Strengthen the institutional capacity of the Electoral Commission.

The Commission has also extracted a detailed Road Map to the 2025/2026 General Elections from the above goals.

The Roadmap will enable the various stakeholders in the electoral process to achieve the following:

a) Improvement in the planning for participation and implementation of electoral activities;

b) Improvement in co-ordination of electoral activities;

c) Timely implementation of scheduled electoral activities; and,

d) Transparency in the implementation of electoral programs and activities.

The Roadmap is clearly a reminder to all stakeholders in the electoral process to start planning to ensure a smooth democratic process.

He said that to achieve the above, the Commission appeals to the Government, particularly Cabinet and the Legislature, to ensure timely amendment and/or enactment of the relevant electoral laws. This is critical because any amendment in electoral laws will have to take into consideration, the electoral roadmap, the procurement timeframes in accordance with PPDA requirements, and the impact on the overall elections planning and budget.

The Commission further appealed to the Government to consider and approve the creation of new administrative units in a timely manner, so that the electoral program and budget are not destabilized. When this is not done, the impact on our preparations, particularly on the demarcation of electoral areas, re-organization of polling stations and voter education is enormous.

“Prime Minister, you will note that the projected cost for the 2025/2026 General elections has significantly gone up compared to the 2020/2021 General elections. The factors for the significant increase and the cost drivers are indicated and include the projected increase in the voter population and hence a number of polling stations; an increase in the number of elective offices and number of candidates nominated for elections; an increase in the number of Administrative Units; as well as continuous improvements/reforms in the electoral process, among others,” Byabakama revealed.

He added, “As we launch the Strategic Plan and Roadmap, we also recognize that there are key pending national-level electoral activities, namely, Administrative Units (LC 1 and LC 2) and Women Councils and Committees Elections. The Commission urges the Government to provide the required funds so that the above elections are held before key General Elections activities start, to avoid stampeding the Roadmap.”

Byabakama cautioned political parties and organizations, that the release of this Strategic Plan and Roadmap is not meant to thrust the Country into a frenzy of campaign-related activities for aspiring individuals, Political parties, and organizations. While Consultations are provided for in the law, campaigns must follow a program approved and regulated by the Commission.

“I urge Political Parties and Organizations to use the Plan and Roadmap to make adequate preparations for successful participation in the elections. I further urge the political parties to pursue peaceful co-existence before, during, and after the electoral process,” he said.

He cautioned citizens of Uganda, in general, that they also have a role to play in ensuring the successful implementation of this Plan and Roadmap and urged them to work with the Electoral Commission and ensure a smooth implementation of the Roadmap, and the preservation of the peace and stability they are currently enjoying.

He further appealed to the Government to continue providing adequate funding in a timely manner to enable the Commission to undertake its constitutional obligations and the Parliament to enact laws or amendments to electoral laws in time so as not to destabilize the Roadmap.

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