Chances of conducting the 2021 general elections have received a major blow after President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni said it wouldn’t be a good idea having people converge for electioneering amidst the current economic circumstances brought about by Coronavirus which according to him would further complicate the already dire health situation in the country.
In a one on one conversation with NBS TV on Friday 8 at State House Nakasero, Museveni discussed a wide range of issues concerning politics, health, the economy, among others where he ruled out the possibility of holding elections under the current delicate atmosphere.
“Earlier today, I had a one-on-one interview on a wide range of issues with NBS. The show will air next Monday at 9pm,” Museveni later posted on twitter on Friday.
He castigated those that have accused him of using the current crisis to gain political capital out of it by appearing to take all the credit for the successful fight against COVID-19. Museveni who appeared pissed at the mention of the accusation said whoever were spreading the narrative were “idiots.”
“Who could wish for this so that I speak and become popular! rubbish, idiots.” He shot back.
With the Country scoring wonderfully in the fight against the novel Coronavirus pandemic, political pundits have already started projecting a landslide victory for Museveni who will have been in power for a record 35 years by the time polls are held early next year.
Uganda has so far been hailed internationally over the manner in which the crisis has been handled under the wise stewardship of Museveni with 55 of the 116 cases (as of may 9) recovering with no death reported. For the last one month, virus spread in the community stand at less than 10, with most of the new cases arriving from the neighboring countries, majorly Kenya and Tanzanian truck drivers.
Despite the positive projection of the electoral result being in his favor, Museveni doesn’t seem to be willing to throw a dice on the lives of his subjects. As such, he doubts the present shaky atmosphere would be ideal for organizing the elections.
“It will be madness to say you go and people gather. I don’t think it will be wise,” says Museveni.
Faruk Kirunda, the Presidential Assistant on Media Management concurs with the President. According to him, it’s very important that the country focuses on getting out of the current health predicament before thinking of the elections.
“What we are faced with is a war of life and death. Talking of holding elections now would be a misplaced debate since no one knows when it will all end. All we need to do is to observe health guidelines and pray,” Kirunda told Watchdog news in a telephone conversation.
He however prophesied victory by saying that “as things appear, we are on course towards defeating the pandemic,” adding that the 55 recoveries and containing the virus from spreading among the local communities was a major attestation to government’s efficiency in handling the situation.
He also said that the Electoral Commission was very much willing and determined to organise the elections any time the situation normalises and it’s proved safe for all stakeholders.
Electoral Commission however seems more optimistic than the President, saying that even though they agree with the President over the uncertainty of holding the polls, there can be a way in which elections can be organized in compliance with health guidelines.
“The fact is, you can not have electoral activities conducted in a covid19 environment the same way as before. The Commission is looking at how we can implement electoral programs in compliance with the Government guidelines on covid19 and at the same time not conflicting with the electoral laws. For now, its life let’s first rally behind the President and Government in fighting the spread of Covid19. At an appropriate time, the Commission will inform the Country the electoral program.” John Taremwa, the Spokesperson of the Electoral Commission told Trumpet news, an online news website.
Ms Charity Ahimbisibwe, the national Coordinator of Citizen’s Coalition for Electoral Democracy Uganda (CCEDU), a civil society organisation that has been at the helm of observing elections in Uganda for years argues that postponing the elections would pose a major legal challenge since it’s not provided for under the 1995 Constitution. Whereas article 77 of the Constitution provides for the extension of the tenure of Parliament for six month in situations of war or an emergency, Presidential elections are not mentioned under the same provision of the law.
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