Sunday, March 05, 2006

Election Petitions reveal quandary of irregularities

Uganda's 2006 elections are being lauded as a watershed in terms of the freedom that accompanied the polling. Not so fast, the semblance of normalcy is quickly being thrown into challenge by election petitioners. So far, the biggest headache for candidates and their agents is the wide latitude given to the Returning Officer to announce election results. The Returning Officers' announcement ends all challenges to the counting process throwing it to the courts. Several Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) appointed as returning officers used this power to frustrate candidates and their agents before declaring a winner. Since the Returning Officer collects results from field agents who include polling assistants and assistant returning officers, the integrity of the process is supposed to be checked by candidates' agents signature and countermanding of the tally sheets used to prepare an official Declaration of Results.

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