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Court clears EC to hold LC elections

KAMPALA. The Electoral Commission (EC) has settled out of court a case in which concerned citizens sued the electoral body contesting the manner in which the local council elections were being organised.

The petitioners contended that holding elections when students are at school that was scheduled for November 21, 2017 would disenfranchise the learners. Court told the parties to settle the matter amicably.

According to the EC chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama, they agreed with the petitioners and started organising for the polls to take place in accordance with the EC schedule at a date to be announced soon. The elections were suspended after two separate High Court injunctions were issued halting the exercise.

EC speaks out
“Today, court has endorsed the settlement between Electoral Commission and one of the petitioners as a conclusion of the case. This means the commission is at liberty to resume the process leading up to the conduct of the said elections according to EC schedule and by lining behind candidates.

The commission is going to work out a detailed fresh programme in line with the terms of the settlement which will be communicated in due course,” he said.

Justice Byamukama further said: “The commission would like to thank all the stakeholders. All those who had expressed willingness to contest, the voters and the citizens at large for their patience, and assure them that the long awaited elections will take place.”
He also said more money is needed to deploy more than 60,000 officers on ground.

Injunctions
On August 24, 2017, the EC released a programme for the local council polls. However, on November 13, 2017, two citizens secured a court order a day before the election of village women council and committee elections stopping the exercise, as well as LC1 elections.

The Jinja High Court order by Justice Jesse Byaruhanga Rugyema was informed by an application filed by Mr Allan Alibwani, a Ugandan citizen against the EC.

“An interim order is hereby issued against the respondent [Electoral Commission], his agents and servants restraining them from conducting the elections scheduled for this November until the main application is heard and determined,” the order read.

Restraining
The injunction restrains the preparation for the said elections for a period of 60 days effective its issuance.

Another court injunction was issued by High Court Registrar, Sarah Langa stopping the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General from organising and conducting the village council elections.

Mr James Tweheyo, a concerned citizen had filed an application questioning why the elections were scheduled to coincide with the ongoing Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) exams yet majority of the Senior Six students are eligible voters.

Uganda has not held elections for the LC 1 chairpersons, the lowest leadership position of government for the last 16 years.

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