The Chairperson for the Electoral Commission Justice Simon Byabakama has said the contest for presidency in 2021 could have a record number of presidential candidates if the applicants are serious about their aspirations.
Byabakama said, as it stand, the Commission expects over 20 presidential aspirants in 2021, owing to the huge numbers that flock his office expressing interest in the top office. He said ever since the Commission met Hon. Ssentamu Kyagulanyi and cleared the air on nationwide consultations, he has been receiving presidential aspirants almost on daily basis.
“They are so many. They are over 20 and as I speak right now, there are some on my desk” Byabakama said.
Byabakama was speaking during the launch of the education and publicity campaign for the National Voters’ Register Display, held at EC Headquarters in Kampala, on Monday. He says if the aspiring candidates turn up for nominations, the list will be very long.
He however dismissed claims that aspiring candidates for positions of leadership in the forthcoming 2021 will be required to present URA tax clearance certificates as prerequisite to participate in the elections. Byabakama said the claim is not catered in the existing electoral laws, and therefore baseless.
The development followed reports that quoted the Commissioner General for Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Miss Doris Akol urging individuals intending to run as candidates in 2021, to acquire tax clearance certificates as one requirement for eligibility.
“I wish to inform those that plan to run for political offices in 2021 elections that it is the right time to streamline your tax information, because the Revenue Authority will require you to prove that you have been fulfilling your tax obligations” Doris Akol reportedly said.
Byabakama says that at the moment the Electoral Commission does not have an element or an aspect of tax clearance embedded in electoral laws as one of the requirements for an aspirant or a candidate for any electoral position. He however said if the law is amended, the EC will implement it.
“The law spells out what you are required to provide or to satisfy in order to qualify for nomination. But as far as I am concerned, we do not have an aspect of tax clearance as one of the requirements” Byabakama said.
He said at the moment the Commission is bound to what the law currently provides for. He however noted that all aspiring candidates must submit National Council of Higher Education (NCHE) certified academic qualifications to the Commission two months before nominations. According to the existing law, Parliamentary and Presidential or LC 5 candidates must possess an “A” level or equivalent.
Byabakama said as of February 2020, the Commission has registered 17,782,594 voters in 135 Districts, 257 Counties, 296 Constituencies, 2062 Sub-counties, 1029 parishes, 68733 Villages, and 34,344 Polling Stations.
He urged all Ugandans to maintain peace, be law abiding, and remember that the future and development of Uganda is determined by peace and stability. He said the display of the National Voters Register is an important exercise since it determines whether one will be eligible to vote, or not.