KAMPALA. The High Court in Kampala has ordered the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Attorney General (AG) to appear before it today in relation to a case in which a concerned citizen is challenging the exclusion of prisoners on remand from voting in general elections.
According to the summons issued by Deputy Registrar Sarah Langa Siu, the EC and AG officials are expected to appear before Justice Lydia Mugambe Ssali for mention of the case and fixing of a hearing date.
In February, Mr Steven Kalali petitioned the High Court over EC’s exclusion of inmates on remand and Ugandans living in diaspora from voting.
Mr Kalali 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, which he says is a violation of their fundamental right to vote.
He explains that prisoners, including 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. The court details
“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.
“A declaration that the non-registration of prisoners and Ugandans living in diaspora by the 2nd respondent (EC), amounts to discrimination and hence it is illegal,” the suit adds.
Some of the upcoming elections 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.
Mr Kalali 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 elections.
The petitioner also wants the EC and the AG to provide for voter registration and satisfactory voting mechanisms for Ugandans living in diaspora for not only presidential but also other offices as well.
Current EC practice
Rights. The current practice by EC is that prisoners and Ugandans living in diaspora do not participate in general elections
Numbers. Prison statistics show that as of last year, there were 29,000 inmates on remand and 27,000 convicts bringing the total number of the inmates to 56,000.