The Electoral Commission (EC) offices have been vacant for two days since the commissioners’ tenure ended on January 7, putting all policy-related activities on hold.
“The management and staff of the Electoral Commission congratulate the Members of the Commission on the successful completion of their term of office for the period 7 January 2017 to 7 January 2024,” the Electoral Commission (EC) said in a release.
According to the Daily Monitor newspaper, the commissioners have not reported to work since.
“Their term of office expired, and that is what happened,” EC spokesperson Mr. Paul Bukenya told Daily Monitor.
The commissioners include Chairperson Simon Byabakama, his deputy Hajat Aisha Lubega, Mr. Peter Emorut, Mr. Stephen Tashobya, Ms. Nathaline Etomaru, and Hajj Mustapha Ssebagala.
Ms. Justine Ahabwe, the seventh member, left office last month when her second term expired.
Mr Faruk Kirunda, the deputy presidential press secretary, confirmed to Daily Monitor that President Museveni had not made any appointments as of January 8th, 2023.
Article 60 of the Constitution, which established the EC, grants commissioners a seven-year term that can be renewed once.
Clause 4 of the Article specifically requires the president, as the appointing authority, to renew the mandate of an incumbent EC commissioner three months before the end of their current term. Legally, Justice Byabakama and his colleagues are no longer eligible for reappointment.
The Constitution requires commissioners to organise, conduct, and supervise elections and referendums. In addition, the Commission is in the process of implementing its electoral roadmap for the 2026 general election.
Justice Byabakama organised and oversaw one of Uganda’s most violent presidential elections in 2021, in which President Museveni defeated his main challenger, Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi of the National Unity Platform. However, critics accused the commission of selectively enforcing rules designed to guide “digital campaigns.”
Mr. Kyagulanyi’s camp accused the EC and law enforcement of using double standards by allowing supporters of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party’s flag bearer, Mr. Yoweri Museveni, to hold mass rallies while opposition gatherings were typically violently dispersed.
According to Article 60 of the Constitution, the Electoral Commission consists of a chairperson, a deputy chairperson, and five additional members appointed by the President with Parliament’s approval.
Members of the Commission serve for seven years and can be reappointed for one additional term.
The appointment of a member of the Commission must be renewed at least three months before the end of the first term.