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Electoral Commission (EC) Offices Vacant as Term Expires; Museveni to Appoint New Commissioners

EC Chairperson Byabakama
EC Chairperson Byabakama

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The offices of the Electoral Commission (EC) in Uganda have been vacant for two days following the expiration of the tenure of the commissioners on January 7. The EC released a statement congratulating the outgoing commissioners on the successful completion of their term from January 7, 2017, to January 7, 2024. Among the outgoing commissioners are Chairperson Simon Byabakama, his deputy Hajat Aisha Lubega, and others.

The law mandates the president to appoint EC commissioners, and according to Article 60 of the Constitution, the commissioners have a seven-year tenure, renewable only once. The appointment of commissioners is expected to be made three months before the end of their running term. As of now, President Museveni has not made any appointments, and the responsibilities of the EC, such as organizing elections and implementing the electoral roadmap for the 2026 general election, will have to wait until new commissioners are appointed.

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Mr. Nobert Mao, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, stated last month that appointments would be made “in accordance with the law.” The opposition has raised concerns about the unilateral manner of appointment, advocating for an independent entity such as the Judicial Service Commission or the Public Service Commission to appoint EC commissioners on merit.

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The outgoing EC, led by Justice Byabakama, organized and oversaw the 2021 presidential election, which was criticized for alleged selective application of rules during “digital campaigns.” The opposition accused the EC and law enforcement of double standards in handling political gatherings.

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As of now, there is no official communication regarding the appointees, and the process involves the president’s appointment followed by vetting and approval by Parliament’s Appointments Committee.