KAMPALA – The NRM party has said they are willing to abide by the Electoral Commission’s directive to suspend all campaign meetings in 12 districts and cities across the country.
EC Chairman Justices Simon Byabakama Mugenyi suspended all campaign meetings in districts and cities categorized by Ministry of Health as having high spread of COVID-19. The commission noted that despite several reminders to candidates to conduct campaigns in a manner that will not put the lives of Ugandans at risk, some candidates have continued to address mass gatherings, which has led to fast spread of the virus in Uganda.
“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 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,” a statement signed by Justice Byamukama reads in pJustice
It adds: “According to the said Health Experts, the transmission of the COVID-19 is being exacerbated by mass gatherings.”
Justice Byamukama advised that candidates restrict themselves to virtual campaigns – radios, televisions, social media, community-based Public Address Systems (kizindaalo) and other online platforms.
While addressing journalists on Sunday at party headquarters, NRM Secretary General, Justine Kasule Lumumba said the party presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni will abide by the EC directive to the letter.
She, however, appealed to the EC to schedule a meeting with all stakeholders and come out with clear guidllines to all parties which will guide them in how to conduct campaigns in the stated areas of Kampala, Mbarara, Kabarole, Luweero, Kasese, Masaka, Wakiso, Jinja, Kalungu, Kazo, Kiruhura, Mukono and Tororo.
The suspension comes at a time when NRM presidential candidate Museveni has campaigned in all districts except in Kampala, Wakiso and greater Mukono where he was meant to campaign beginning on Monday, December 28.
Lumumba asked all NRM leaders and supporters at all levels to intensify all village-to-village and door-to-door campaigns since this is the only available alternative.
She also called upon the regulators, Uganda Communications Commission and the public broadcaster, UBC, to follow the Supreme Court ruling of 2016 which demanded that all presidential candidates be given equal airtime while campaigning.
Last week the Uganda joint Christian Council in a joint statement asked government to extend the general elections for three more years citing violence and surging corona virus spread.