New EC Vetted as Opposition legislators Boycott the exercise
Opposition legislators have today boycotted a session of Appointments Committee that approved Justice Simon Byabakama as the new Electoral Commission (EC) Chairman.
Byabakama replaces Eng. Dr. Badru Kiggundu who retired in November after 14 years in charge of the national elections body.
Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza together with other four legislators including Kalungu West MP Joseph Sewungu, Oyam Woman MP Santa Alum, Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye and Gulu Woman MP Betty Aol kept away from the meeting. They accuse President Yoweri Museveni of failing to keep his promise on electoral reforms.
Kiiza states that the Inter -Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) met the president in July and he agreed to commit to the process that would lead to a series of electoral reforms including the composition of the EC.
She says the other parties in the IPOD were meant to have met the Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda in August but he has never bothered to call for a meeting.
Kiiza, who was flanked by the Democratic Party (DP) whip in parliament Joseph Ssewungu, noted that going ahead to appoint new EC commissioners was a show of dishonesty on the part of the president.
Despite the boycott from the opposition, the appointments committee chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga continued with the vetting process.
Moses Bwalatum, the principal Information Officer at parliament said that the LOP sent her apologies to the Speaker but did not give reasons as to why she was not attending the meeting.
"The quorum of the Appointments Committee is 10 members. The sitting has 15 members presently and it is proceeding according to the Rules of Procedure and the Law," says Bwalatum.
Speaking to journalists at parliament, Byabakama said that he had a wonderful interaction with the committee and that he believed he answered most of the questions to the best of his ability.
Justice Byabakama also revealed to journalists that while before the appointments committee, he requested Speaker Kadaga to address the issue of inadequate funding to the Electoral Commission in order for it to execute its mandate.
He hinted on the repeated demand for electoral reforms saying that Parliament and the Executive should take the lead to ensure that these are put in place early enough to avoid inconveniences.
The appointments committee also endorsed Commissioner Peter Emorut. Speaking to reporters after being vetted, Emorut was guarded in his responses.
"It was a good interaction, the committee was friendly but no planning now, they promised to get back to me", said Emorut.
Stephen Tashobya was also okayed by the committee and proposed that the Commission on which he is going to serve should have one term of office to mitigate corruption tendencies.
The others waiting for vetting include, Prof. George Piwang, Ssebagala Kigozi and Hajati Aisha Lubega.