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The two leading presidential candidates have said they will not participate in the live televised presidential debate slated for Friday, 15th January, 2015 at Serena Hotel organized by The Inter-Religious Council.

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The National Resistance Movement Campaign Task force spokesperson Mike Sebalu on Saturday said president Museveni who is the party candidate will not attend because their rallies end late and there is no time for Museveni to travel from the countryside districts to Kampala where the debate is going to take place.

“We cannot change our campaign programme for unplanned, unprepared events… We respect and value even the lowest of our supporters and we can’t abandon them to go to Serena hotel to take wine, take tea, chat, and waste time”, Sebalu said.

Responding to information that president Museveni would not attend, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate Kizza Besigye yesterday said he will not participate in the debate if Museveni is not present.

Besigye argued that the debate is between two sides, “the dictatorship and those seeking democracy.”

“So it’s very clear, if Mr. Museveni declines to have a debate. Then we cannot have the debate alone. The debate collapses…it would be madness for me to take a day or two off my campaign to go to debate with my colleagues,” he said.

However, Independent presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi said he will attend the debate even in if Museveni and Besigye pull out.

“I shall be there if there is a debate. There are 8 (eight) people in the race, if 2 (two) have pulled out of the debate, then that does not mean we cannot debate,” Mbabazi said.

People’s Development Party (PDP) candidate Abed Bwanika and Independent candidate Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba have confirmed that they will honour the debate.

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