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JEEMA Rejects Proposal to Jail Presidential Candidates for Campaigning Outside Time

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The JEEMA party Chairperson, Muhammad Kibirge Mayanja, says that campaigning outside the specified campaign time is a minor offence and shouldn’t constitute an offence for which candidates should be punished with 48 currency points or jail of up to 2 years.
Justice Forum (JEEMA) officials before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

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The Justice Forum-JEEMA party has rejected a proposal by government to punish presidential candidates for campaigning outside the specified time, saying that it is minor to constitute an offence.    

The Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill proposes that a candidate shall hold campaigns between seven o'clock in the forenoon and six o’clock in the afternoon. 

It proposes that a person who contravenes the provision commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 48 currency points approximately Shillings 960,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or both. 

However, the JEEMA party Chairperson, Muhammad Kibirge Mayanja, says that campaigning outside the specified campaign time is a minor offence and shouldn’t constitute an offence for which candidates should be punished with 48 currency points or jail of up to 2 years.

Mayanja was appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee together with other JEEMA officials to present their views on the proposed electoral reforms tabled by Attorney General, William Byaruhanga. 

He told MPs that besides being minor, the proposal is not enforceable on the incumbent president who can’t be subjected to prosecution and arrest, according to the Constitution.   

 

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Mayanja also critiqued the government proposal for candidates to declare to the Electoral Commission (EC) the source of their campaign financing within 14 days after nominations. 

He said the proposal is disappointing since the cancer of corruption and vote buying, which have invaded and overtaken the voting process in Uganda isn’t tackled.        

"The fact that the Bills are silent about the magnitude of expenditure by candidates means that the National Resistance Movement-NRM government is happy that the entire voting system is commercialized," said Mayanja.

The JEEMA Chairman said that it was their considered opinion that restriction and limitations shouldn’t stop at sources of financing but should also be included on the entire campaign financing process.  

The Opposition political party also demanded that government maintains the 48 hour rule for delivery of election materials contrary to the proposal to replace it by 'any time' before polling time.

Mayanja says the government proposal will open gates for tampering with election materials and manipulation hence the need to maintain the status-quo as an inbuilt safeguard to the process.

He appealed to the committee to consider the Citizen's Compact that political parties and Civil Society Organisations presented to parliament ahead of the 2016 general elections.   

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Some of the issues highlighted in the Compact include a new mechanism for constituting the Electoral Commission, the removal of security forces and militia groups from the electoral process, separating the State from the ruling party and respect for freedom of assembly among others.