New EC Boss, Commissioners Take Oath

2887 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Electoral Commission Chairperson Simon Byabakama said he recognized the fact that he is coming into office at a time it faces criticism about its lack of independence. He pledged to ride on his background in the judiciary to remain independent in the execution of his mandate.

Seven newly appointed Members of the Electoral Commission have today taken oath following their approval by parliament last year. 

They include Justice Simon Byabakama, the newly appointed chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Hajat Aisha Lubega (Deputy Chairperson) and Commissioners Stephen Tashobya, Justine Ahabwe Mugabi, Peter Emorut, Hajji Mustapha Ssebaggala Kigozi and Nathaline Etomaru.

They were sworn in by the Chief Justice Bert Katureebe at the High court in Kampala.

Katureebe observed that the forthcoming local council elections will be a litmus test for the new commission before warning  the new team to be able to withstand pressure from the media, religious leaders and civil society.

He also cautioned them against working at the last minute to amend electoral laws but lobby the Executive and the Legislative arms early enough to prepare for polls way ahead of time.

In his maiden speech as the Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Byabakama said he recognized the fact that he is coming into office at a time it faces criticism about its lack of independence. He pledged to ride on his background in the judiciary to remain independent in the execution of his mandate.

"A lot has been said about the lack of or perceived lack of independence of the commission and the skeptics have weighed in that even the new team like is wanting in that regard" Byabakama said.

However he added; "I wish to say that I come from a background where being independent is a prerequisite of exercise of the judicial power. Fortunately or unfortunately, I am not about to throw off that gown and leave it in court."

He said he will ensure that the commission works within the provision of the Constitution and the Electoral Commission Act.

President Museveni appointed Justice Byabakama as EC boss in November last year replacing Eng Dr Badru Kiggundu who had been at the helm of the electoral body for the 14 years. He was at the time of his appointment, a justice of the Court of Appeal/Constitutional Court.

This is the first time that a judicial official is appointed to head the electoral body.