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Parliamentary committee urges funding for 2026 elections and legal education

The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee has appealed to the government to allocate Shs756.988 billion to the Electoral Commission (EC) for early preparations for the 2026 general elections, citing severe delays in funding that could jeopardize the election schedule.

Members rise to catch the eye of the Speaker during plenary on Friday, April 12

The committee chairperson, Robina Rwakoojo, expressed concerns over the sluggish disbursement of funds. "We learned that the EC's planned roadmap for the initial phase in the 2023/2024 fiscal year and the subsequent phase in 2024/2025 requires a total of Shs765.6268 billion, yet only Shs8.638 billion has been released so far," Rwakoojo reported.

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She emphasized the critical nature of these preparations, noting that many of the activities are legally time-bound and must occur sequentially. "To ensure these time-sensitive activities are completed before the elections, we recommend the provision of an additional Shs756.988 billion," Rwakoojo added.

During the plenary session led by Speaker Anita Among on Friday, April 12, the committee's report, which also includes the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs' policy statement and budget estimates for the Financial Year 2024/2025, was debated and approved.

The report highlighted a shortfall in the government's commitment to fund the Electoral Commission, with MPs calling for the government to release Shs11.16 billion approved in 2017 for commission remuneration which remains unpaid.

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Furthermore, Rwakoojo requested Shs3.50 billion for part-time teacher allowances at the Law Development Centre (LDC), which has suffered significant operational impacts. "The LDC has had to halt the Diploma in Law and Human Rights courses at the Mbarara and Lira campuses, as well as short courses in various other centers, due to insufficient funds," she detailed.

The committee also approved Shs11.407 billion for hiring additional state attorneys to address the backlog of cases, recognizing that understaffing leads to inadequate government representation in legal proceedings, often resulting in unfavorable judgments against the state.

Echoing the committee’s sentiments, Kalungu West County MP, Joseph Ssewungu, emphasized the need for action. "The creation of lower courts has not been matched with the appointment of adequate state attorneys, leading to extended detentions at police posts. It's crucial for the government to address this by appointing more resident state attorneys," Ssewungu urged.

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