Parliament has approved 15.9 billion Shillings to fund elections for Local Council (LC) I and II leaders across the country. The funding was approved as parliament considered a report of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for the financial year 2017-2018.
Legislators warned that the budget for the Electoral Commission, one of the sectors dissected by the legal committee, could not be approved without a provision for local council elections.
The local councils are the first reference points for the community and other organs of the state. However, Uganda has not held LCI elections since 2001 owing to a 2007 ruling based on a petition filed by Maj Rubaramira Ruranga, the former chairman of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party Electoral Commission.
Major Ruranga argued that Local councils which were previously elected under the movement system became unconstitutional when the country adopted a multiparty political system.
Court ruled that the new LCs could not be elected unless the respective electoral laws had been amended to reflect the multiparty setting. Subsequently parliament of Uganda passed the Local Government (Amendment) Bill which provides for election of village, ward and parish councils under the multiparty system. However, no fresh LC elections have been held to date.
Jacob Oboth-Oboth the chairperson of the Legal Committee of parliament earlier told the committee that there was no provision for funding local council elections in the EC budget for next financial year. However, his submission was contested by State Minister for Planning David Bahati who insisted that money had been provided for the polls.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah directed the two leaders to vacate the chambers and reconcile their figures.
On return, both MP Oboth and state minister Bahati confirmed to parliament that funds have been availed in the next financial year 2017/2018 to conduct local council elections. Bahati said that the money had been classified as general elections.
Uganda has 57,842 villages.