Age Limit Referenda | Bwanika to go to court over electronic signatures

Posted December 8, 2017 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Age Limit Debate ~ 2,912 views


People’s Development Party president Abed Bwanika wants court to compel the Electoral Commission (EC) to grant him permission to collect electronic signatures calling for a referendum on presidential age limits.

“We have whatever we need to get the electronic signatures in this country but [because] EC [wants] to safeguard the interests of their boss, they are telling us it’s not possible” said Bwanika on Wednesday at a membership meeting for the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (Ccedu).

“We are lodging another case against the EC in the High court to force it to allow us collect electronic signatures.”

On October 18, the EC permitted the two-time presidential contender to collect at least 1.5 million signatures from registered voters in order to push for a referendum seeking citizens’ views on removing the presidential age limit cap.

There are at least 15 million registered voters in Uganda and Bwanika needs at least 10 per cent of them to endorse his idea to effect a referendum. This followed the tabling of the Constitution Amendment (No.2) Bill, 2017 in parliament where its promoters want the removal of article 102(b), which prohibits Ugandans above 75 years from standing for president.

Speaking at the Ccedu meeting at their Kabalagala offices, Bwanika said he wrote to EC last month seeking permission to acquire signatures electronically but they blatantly refused. Without giving reasons, the electoral body wrote back telling him that collecting electronic signatures was not an option.

Bwanika said this is tantamount to a ploy to frustrate his action since he had already faced lots of “problems” with police and age limit removal sympathizers when he tried to collect signatures physically.

Bwanika said his team has been harassed by police and some already-signed documents were confiscated. This happened especially in Isingiro, Kampala and Mbale. He, thus, saw it necessary to collect signatures electronically since it’s provided for under the Electronic Signatures Act of 2011.

Already, there is a petition in the Constitutional court to stop parliament from deliberating on Article 102(b). Bwanika stressed that there was need to stop the discussions on age limits because power belongs to the people.

If the age limit removal decision is left in the hands of MPs, it will be in contravention of article one of the Constitution, Bwanika argues. Even if Bwanika manages to collect the required signatures, he is worried that the current composition of the EC can’t hold free and fair elections.

“Many Ugandans have huge doubts on whether there can be a free and fair exercise under [the current] EC team. They base their fears from the history because they don’t know anywhere in history where the EC has ever delivered a free and fair election,” he said.

“People also have reservations on the willingness of government to conduct a referendum which may not go their way.”

He also wondered how the 1.5 million signatures, if collected, would be validated by the EC which controls the National ID database and could be used to manipulate the contents easily.

Source — The Observer

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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