CHAPTER 5. REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE
Right to vote
59. Right to vote
- Every citizen of Uganda of eighteen years of age or above, has a right to vote.
- It is the duty of every citizen of Uganda of eighteen years of age or above, to register as a voter for public elections and referenda.
- The State shall take all necessary steps to ensure that all citizens qualified to vote, register and exercise their right to vote.
- Parliament shall make laws to provide for the facilitation of citizens with disabilities to register and vote.
60. Electoral Commission
- There shall be an Electoral Commission which shall consist of a Chairperson, a Deputy Chairperson and five other members appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament.
- Members of the Commission shall be persons of high moral character, proven integrity and who possess considerable experience and demonstrated competence in the conduct of public affairs.
- The members of the Commission shall hold office for seven years and their appointment may be renewed for one more term only.
- If the appointment of a member of the Commission is being renewed, the renewal shall be done at least three months before the expiry of the first term.
- A person holding any of the following offices shall relinquish his or her position in that office on appointment as a member of the Commission-
- a member of Parliament; or
- a member of a local government council; or
- a member of the executive of a political party or political organisation; or
- a public officer.
- Members of the Commission shall be paid such emoluments as Parliament may determine.
- If a member of the Commission is absent or dies, the President shall, with the approval of Parliament, appoint a person qualified in terms of this article to act in his or her place until that person is able again to resume his or her duties or as the case may be, until a new person is appointed to fill the vacancy.
- A member of the Commission may be removed from office by the President only for-
- inability to perform the functions of his or her office arising out of physical or mental incapacity;
- misbehaviour or misconduct; or
- Any question for the removal of a member of the Electoral Commission shall be referred to a tribunal appointed by the President, and the President may remove the member if the tribunal recommends that the member should be removed on any of the grounds specified in clause (8) of this article.
- Where the question for removal of a member involves an allegation that the member of the Electoral Commission is incapable of performing the functions of his or her office arising from physical or mental incapacity, the President shall, on the advice of the head of the Health Services of Uganda, appoint a medical board which shall investigate the m atter and report its findings to the President, with a copy to the tribunal.
- Where a tribunal is appointed by the President under clause (9) of this article in respect of any member of the Electoral Commission, the President shall suspend that member from performing the functions of his or her office.
- A suspension under clause (11) of this article shall cease to have effect if the tribunal advises the President that the member suspended should not be removed.
61. Functions of Electoral Commission
- The Electoral Commission shall have the following functions-
- to ensure that regular, free and fair elections are held;
- to organise, conduct and supervise elections and referenda in accordance with this Constitution;
- to demarcate constituencies in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution;
- to ascertain, publish and declare in writing under its seal the results of the elections and referenda;
- to compile, maintain, revise and update the voters’ register;
- to hear and determine election complaints arising before and during polling;
- to formulate and implement voter educational programmes relating to elections; and
- to perform such other functions as may be prescribed by Parliament by law.
- The Electoral Commission shall hold presidential, general parliamentary and local government council elections within the first thirty days of the last one hundred and twenty two days before the expiration of the term of President, Parliament or local government council as the case may be.
- Except where it is impracticable to do so, the Electoral Commission shall hold general parliamentary and local government council elections on the same day.
- Subject to this Constitution, the Electoral Commission shall, in accordance with the law, determine the dates for holding the elections referred to in clause (2).
62. Independence of the Commission
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Commission shall be independent and shall, in the performance of its functions, not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.
- Subject to clauses (2) and (3) of this article, Uganda shall be divided into as many constituencies for the purpose of election of members of Parliament as Parliament may prescribe; and each constituency shall be represented by one member of Parliament.
- When demarcating constituencies for the purposes of clause (1) of this article, the Electoral Commission shall ensure that each county, as approved by Parliament, has at least one member of Parliament; except that no constituency shall fall within more than one county.
- Subject to clause (2) of this article, the boundary of a constituency shall be such that the number of inhabitants in the constituency is, as nearly as possible, equal to the population quota.
- For the purposes of clause (3) of this article, the number of inhabitants of a constituency may be greater or less than the population quota in order to take account of means of communication, geographical features, density of population, area and boundaries of districts.
- Subject to clause (1) of this article, the Commission shall review the division of Uganda into constituencies within twelve months after the publication of results of a census of the population of Uganda and may as a result re-demarcate the constituencies.
- Where the boundary of a constituency established under this article is altered as a result of a review, the alteration shall come into effect upon the next dissolution of Parliament.
- For the purposes of this article, “population quota” means the number obtained by dividing the number of inhabitants of Uganda by the number of constituencies into which Uganda is to be divided under this article.
64. Appeals from decisions of Commission
- Any person aggrieved by a decision of the Electoral Commission in respect of any of the complaints referred to in paragraph (f) of article 61 of this Constitution, may appeal to the High Court.
- A person aggrieved by a decision of the Commission in respect of a demarcation of a boundary may appeal to a tribunal consisting of three persons appointed by the Chief Justice; and the Commission shall give effect to the decision of the tribunal.
- A person aggrieved by a decision of the tribunal made under clause (2) of this article, may appeal to the High Court.
- A decision of the High Court on an appeal under clause (1) or clause (3) of this article shall be final.
- Parliament shall make laws providing for procedure for the expeditious disposal of appeals referred to in this article.
65. Staff of Commission
The appointment of officers and employees of the Electoral Commission shall be made by the Commission acting in consultation with the Public Service Commission.
66. Expenses of Commission
- Parliament shall ensure that adequate resources and facilities are provided to the Commission to enable it to perform its functions effectively.
- The Commission shall be a self-accounting institution and shall deal directly with the Ministry responsible for finance on matters relating to its finances.
- The administrative expenses of the Commission, including salaries, allowances and pensions payable to or in respect of persons serving with the Commission, shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund.
67. Organisation of elections
- The Electoral Commission shall ensure that elections are held at times fixed and notified in advance to the public.
- No candidate in an election shall be denied reasonable access, and use of State-owned communication media.
- All presidential candidates shall be given equal time and space on the State-owned media to present their programmes to the people.
- Parliament shall make laws regulating the use of public resources and institutions during election campaigns.
68. Voting at elections and referenda
- At a public election or referendum, voting shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be by secret ballot using one ballot box at each polling station for all candidates in an election and for all sides in a referendum.
- Immediately after the close of the poll, the presiding officer shall proceed to count at the polling station, the ballot papers of that station and record the votes cast in favour of each candidate or question.
- A candidate is entitled to be present in person or through his or her representatives or polling agents at the polling station throughout the period of voting, counting of the votes and ascertaining of the results of the poll.
- The presiding officer, the candidates or their representatives and in the case of a referendum, the sides contesting or their agents, if any, shall sign and retain a copy of a declaration stating-
- the polling station;
- the number of votes cast in favour of each candidate or question;
and the presiding officer shall there and then, announce the results of the voting at that polling station before communicating them to the returning officer.
- Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, an issue for determination by a referendum shall be taken to be determined by a majority of the votes cast at the referendum.
- Parliament may by law exempt any public election, other than a Presidential or Parliamentary election, from the requirements of clause (1) that it shall be held by secret ballot.
69. Political systems
- The people of Uganda shall have the right to choose and adopt a political system of their choice through free and fair elections or referenda.
- The political systems referred to in clause (1) of this article shall include-
- the movement political system;
- the multi-party political system; and
- any other democratic and representative political system.
70. Movement political system
- The movement political system is broad based, inclusive and non-partisan and shall conform to the following principles-
- participatory democracy;
- democracy, accountability and transparency;
- accessibility to all positions of leadership by all citizens;
- individual merit as a basis for election to political offices.
- Parliament may-
- create organs under the movement political system and define their roles; and
- prescribe from time to time, any other democratic principle of the movement political system, as it may consider necessary.
71. Multi-party political system
- A political party in the multi-party political system shall conform to the following principles-
- every political party shall have a national character;
- membership of a political party shall not be based on sex, ethnicity, religion, or other sectional division;
- the internal organisation of a political party shall conform to the democratic principles enshrined in this Constitution;
- members of the national organs of a political party shall be regularly elected from citizens of Uganda in conformity with the provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this article and with due consideration for gender;
- political parties shall be required by law to account for the sources and use of their funds and assets;
- no person shall be compelled to join a particular party by virtue of belonging to an organisation or interest group.
- Parliament shall by law prescribe a code of conduct for political organisations and political parties and provide for the establishment of a national consultative forum for political parties and organisations with such functions as Parliament may prescribe.
72. Right to form political parties or political organisations
- Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the right to form political parties and any other political organisations is guaranteed.
- An organisation shall not operate as a political party or organisation unless it conforms to the principles laid down in this Constitution and it is registered.
- Parliament shall by law regulate the financing and functioning of political organisations.
- Any person is free to stand for an election as a candidate, independent of a political organisation or political party.
- Parliament, shall by law, regulate the manner of participation in and financing of elections by individuals seeking political office as independent candidates.
73. Regulations of political organisations
- Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, but notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (e) of clause (1) of article 29 and article 43 of this Constitution, during the period when any of the political systems provided for in this Constitution has been adopted, organisations subscribing to other political systems may exist subject to such regulations as Parliament shall by law prescribe.
- Regulations prescribed under this article shall not exceed what is necessary for enabling the political system adopted to operate.
74. Change of political systems by referenda or elections
- A referendum shall be held for the purpose of changing the political system-
- if requested by a resolution supported by more than half of all members of Parliament; or
- if requested by a resolution supported by the majority of the total membership of each of at least one half of all district councils; or
- if requested through a petition to the Electoral Commission by at least one-tenth of the registered voters from each of at least two-thirds of the constituencies for which representatives are required to be directly elected under paragraph (a) of clause (1) of article 78 of this Constitution.
- The political system may also be changed by the elected representatives of the people in Parliament and district councils by resolution of Parliament supported by not less than two thirds of all members of Parliament upon a petition to it supported by not less than two thirds majority of the total membership of each of at least half of all district councils.
- The resolutions or petitions for the purposes of changing the political system shall be taken only in the fourth year of the term of any Parliament.
75. Prohibition of one-party state
Parliament shall have no power to enact a law establishing a one-party state.
76. Parliament to enact laws on elections
Parliament may, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, enact such laws as may be necessary for the purposes of this Chapter, including laws for the registration of voters, the conduct of public elections and referenda and, where necessary, making provision for voting by proxy.