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Citizen petitions court over exclusion of prisoners from voting

KAMPALA. A concerned citizen has petitioned the High Court in Kampala, challenging the exclusion of the remand prisoners by the Electoral Commission (EC) from taking part in the national elections.

Mr Steven Kalali in his suit that he filed in court yesterday, is also challenging the EC’s exclusion of Ugandans living in diaspora from voting.

The petitioner argues that since the coming into force of the 1995 Constitution, the EC has held five general elections but has in total disregard, excluded prisoners and Ugandans living in diaspora from voting, an omission he says is a violation of their fundamental right to vote.

He explains that prisoners including those on remand and those convicted, have never been given a chance to register and participate in the voting exercise and yet the Constitution demands that all citizens enjoy equal rights under the law.

“A declaration that the 2nd respondent’s (EC) exclusion of Uganda prisoners of age 18 years and above from the voters registration exercise is illegal and a violation of their fundamental right to be registered as voters and to vote in the forthcoming elections and subsequent elections and referenda,” Mr Kalali avers in his suit.

Adding: “A declaration that the non-registration of prisoners and Ugandans living in diaspora by the 2nd respondent (EC) amounts to segregation or discrimination and hence it’s illegal.”

Some of the upcoming election include the referendum that will determine whether President Museveni gets a two year extension in office on his current five-year term that ends in 2021.

To that effect, the petitioner through his lawyers of Walusimbi & Co. Advocates, wants court to declare that each of the prison facilities is a registration centre and also deploy its polling agents there in preparation for the subsequent elections.

The petitioner also wants the EC and the Attorney General who are both listed as respondents, to adequately provide for voter registration and satisfactory voting mechanisms for Ugandans living in diaspora for not only presidential but also other offices as well.

The current practice by EC is that prisoners and Ugandans living in diaspora don’t participate in general elections

In an interview with this Dairy Monitor late last year, Prisons spokesperson, Mr Frank Baine, revealed that there were 29,000 inmates on remand and 27,000 convicts bringing the total number of the inmates to 56,000.

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