Political actors should watch their messages and avoid inflammatory statements that could set the country onto a disruptive path during the 2021 general elections, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, has warned.
“We have our elections coming, but a lot of people are trying to make it a do or die situation. It is not, it is just one man one vote,” said Oulanyah.
“This call [to make the elections a do or die situation] which is threatening the peace, unity and stability of our country is misplaced,” he added.
Oulanyah was speaking as Guest of Honour at the grand finale of the University Debate Nationals in Gulu University, which was themed around the 2021 general elections. The debates were organised by the Uganda Debate Network (UDN).
Electoral reforms, he added, precede every election, and have become national culture to enact relevant laws a year to the polls.
For this reason, Oulanyah saw no need of inflaming the public around calls for reforms, adding that the necessary Bills are already being considered by Parliament.
“Electoral reforms are a normal thing that this country has done, and like it is about to do. Before the 2006 elections, there were reforms in 2005, there were reforms in 2010 before the 2011 elections; [for 2021] the Bills are already in Parliament so why are we making it difficult,” he said.
Oulanyah said the youth should be careful and shun those encouraging voter apathy, saying he who disenfranchises himself by choosing not to participate in the elections will have lost the right to complain should the exercise return bad leaders.
“What right will you have to say anything about the leaders if you do not vote?” he said.
Gulu University Vice Chancellor, Prof George Openjuru, said young people badly need to master the art of debate as an alternative to violence, altercations.
Prof Openjuru said with debate, ideas are exchanged under a peaceful atmosphere, warning students against electing leaders based on their propensity to cause violence.
“I urge you to elect leaders that will promote dialogue in student leadership; good student leadership must promote debate and not violence and provocation,” he said.
The ground in the countryside is ripening with readiness for the highly anticipated 2021 general elections, with politicians promising opponents bruising battles.