Kampala – The suspension of campaigns by Electoral Commission (EC) has left several presidential candidates and aspirants hanging in balance as the polls draw closer.
The affected candidates include Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine (NUP), Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (NRM), Patrick Amuriat Oboi (FDC) and Henry Tumukunde (IND),
This development follows the suspension of campaign meetings in the 11 districts/cities categorized by the Ministry of Health as highly Covid-19 sporadic zones.
The EC spokesperson, Paul Bukenya revealed that no campaign meetings will be held in cities and districts of Jinja (Jinja City inclusive), Kabale, Kalungu, Masaka (Masaka City inclusive), Tororo, Kampala, Luwero, Wakiso, Greater Mukono (Buikwe, Buvuma, Mukono, Kayunga), Mbarara District (Mbarara City inclusive), Kabarole District (Fort Portal City inclusive), Kasese and Kazo, effective December 26, 2020.
“Following a meeting with the Ministry of Health experts on Wednesday 23rd December 2020, where they expressed great concern over the manner political actors/candidates and their supporters were conducting themselves during campaigns, coupled with an upsurge in the transmission of the virus and resultant deaths, the Commission has deemed it necessary to suspend campaign meetings of all categories of elections for the 2020/2021 General Elections in specified districts/cities,” read part of the statement issued Saturday.
The statement further sustained that, “Guided by Section 12 (1)(h) of the Electoral Commission Act; Section 21 (1) and (2) of the Presidential Elections Act, 2005; Section 20(1) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005; and Section 172 of the Local Governments Act, campaign meetings for all elective offices are suspended with immediate effect, in the Districts/Cities of Jinja (Jinja City inclusive), Kabale, Kalungu, Masaka (Masaka City inclusive), Tororo, Kampala, Luwero, Wakiso, Greater Mukono (Buikwe, Buvuma, Mukono, Kayunga), Mbarara District (Mbarara City inclusive), Kabarole District (Fort Portal City inclusive), Kasese and Kazo, which have been categorized by the Health Experts as high, sustained and diffuse transmission districts/areas.
As Uganda’s robust health system continues to be poked, the increasing positive tests and deaths have since prompted Health experts to move for the suspension of campaigns. This follows a growing trend of campaign processions plying towns – with some inciting tension as security force enforce the set SOPs.
With cumulative COVID-19 cases staggering at a whooping at 33,566 and 245 deaths, Ministry of Health moved to halt Ugandans not to travel home for the festival season in vain. Health experts cited that spread of COVID-19 would be multiplied by exposing those in upcountry settings.
How candidates were affected
Prior to the festive season, The National Resistance Movement (NRM) presidential flag-bearer, Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni has just concluded holding ‘scientific’ meetings with party delegates and youths in Greater Masaka and Kooki (Rakai).
Following the EC pronouncement, the incumbent president’s campaigns in Greater Mukono that were set for Monday December 28, 2020 hit snag. As reflected by the EC approved schedule, this leaves the trail in Wakiso and Kampala for 29-30th December.
The controversial self-styled leader of People Power – now National Unity Platform (NUP) Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine was set to hold campaigns in Masaka (Dec. 29), Jinja (Jan 6), Busiro & Nansana, Kampala (Jan, 8), Kawempe, Rubaga and Kampala Central (Jan 9).
Teso- bred Patrick Amuriat Oboi, Forum For Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate, was set to hold campaigns in Masaka (Dec. 29), Jinja (Jan 8), Busiro, Nansana and Kampala Central (Jan 9).
The vocal politician vowed to proceed with the campaigns in Greater Masaka and Jinja citing that the electoral body had not reached out.
“We have not been informed formally of suspension of campaigns in key districts and cities. We shall therefore treat the rumour with the contempt it deserves. We are continuing with our campaigns in Masaka, and we shall also campaign in Jinja tomorrow, without fail,” said Amuriat.
The former Security Minister and senior Military officer-turned-politician, Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Henry Tumukunde (IND) held campaigns in the Great Luwero Triangle last week.
The halting of campaigns by EC leaves Tumukunde’s next stops in Masaka (Dec 29), Jinja (Jan 6), Busiro & Nansana (Jan 8), Kawempe & Rubaga and Kampala Central (Jan 9).
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Independent presidential hopeful John Katumba is no different in the conundrum. Katumba was set to hold campaigns in Wakiso, Mukono (Dec 27), Kayunga (Dec. 29), Kawempe (Dec 31) Kampala Central (Jan 1), Masaka (Jan 2), Jinja and Iganga (Jan 4).