Whereas the Constitution in Article 68(1), provides for elections to be held by secret ballot be it presidential, parliamentary or local government level, Article 68(6), however, has provided room for government to hold elections by another method as longs as the process will ensure free and fair elections.
Under the Constitution and international laws, Ugandans have a right to political/public participation, right to secret ballot and right to free and fair elections,”
Article 269 of the 1995 Constitution entrenched a number of restrictions on political activity, which remain in force. It is envisioned in the Constitution that these restrictions will ultimately be fully implemented by a law regulating political activity in Uganda.
In the past during guerrilla war against the Obote II government, the NRA/M established resistance councils (RC) in the villages under its control as well as some similar, but clandestine structures in contested areas. These structures were loosely based on the neighbourhood committees organised in the “liberated zones” in the late 1960s. Although originally designed as support structures for the NRA fighters, the resistance councils grew into a model for what was viewed as “popular democracy.”
The resistance councils renamed local councils in 1997 - start at the village level (LC1), and progress through the parish (LC2) to the sub-county (LC3), county (LC4), and district (LC5). During the early days of NRM rule, the government’s legislative branch was the un-elected National Resistance Council (NRC), which was replaced in 1996 by a largely directly elected Parliament in which a number of non-elected seats were reserved for the army and other government sectors and interest groups, which tend to be NRM-aligned.
Originally, election of LC officials involved villagers lining up behind candidates, a practice which has been contested as not providing the voter free and fair environment to make choice of the candidates of their interest. Lining up behind candidates will increase conflicts among voters.
While the LCs and special interest groups are holdovers from the past, they remain useful electoral resources for governance system.
The government should continue to create massive awareness of the masses about the importance of their involvement in the LC elections. This is the only way we can realise huge voter attendance.
Moses Okoed, [email protected]