Museveni defends Electoral Commission on scientific elections

2021 Elections Watch

President Yoweri Museveni has defended Electoral Commission on organizing scientific elections in 2021.

The Electoral Commission last week announced that mass rallies for campaigns will not be allowed during the forthcoming polls but candidates will rather use TVs, radios, and social media to campaign, a move that has not augured well with politicians especially from the opposition.

The president said mass gatherings are likely to fuel the spread of the virus in communities, noting that scientific elections are the safest means of doing it.

“….the danger is in the holding of public gatherings. If you eliminate those and messages of the contestants are passed on through the radios, TVs, socio-media, etc, the gathering for the elections themselves can be safely managed with hand-washing, social-distancing by leaving gaps of the necessary metres between voters in,” Museveni said on Monday evening while updating the country on the Coronavirus situation.

“This would remove the uncertainty that would be created by the postponement of the elections but also ensure that elections are held safely.”

The president asked Ugandans to support the option of scientific elections because “it can work if all concerned do their assignment diligently.”

Several opposition politicians have since the announcement of the revised 2021 election road map blasted the Electoral Commission over the scientific campaigns.

Kyadondo East legislator and presidential hopeful, Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine described as ridiculous the idea of holding scientific elections.

“We are mindful that the Coronavirus pandemic is real and dangerous. However, government must not use the virus as an excuse to trample on whatever is left of democratic rights. Many Ugandans have put forward logical proposals which ensure that the public health of Ugandans is not compromised, while ensuring that their democratic rights are not taken away,”Bobi Wine noted.

Forum for Democratic Change said the scientific campaigns are meant to deny a chance to President Museveni’s opponents to reach out to the population to canvass for votes.

The Alliance for National Transformation on Monday said they have written to the Electoral Commission in regards the scientific elections that they said  are not well explained to them.

“We need clarification on the digital mode of campaigns. The biggest population may not have access to digital facilities like TVs, radios, and social media. If we go into that kind of campaign, there is a possibility of disfranchising a huge number of electorates who can’t access digital platforms,” Wilberforce Sseryazi, the ANT spokesperson told a news conference on Monday.

In unison, all politicians, especially from the opposition say that the Electoral Commission ought to have consulted them before coming up with the revised road map.

The Electoral Commission spokesperson, Jotham Taremwa recently said they don’t need anyone’s advice before coming up with an election roadmap.

“When electoral commission is preparing an electoral program, it does not require subjecting that decision to anyone’s opinion. We don’t require anybody’s permission as per article 61 of the constitution to tell us to release a program or not. It can only be done through an amendment,” Taremwa said while appearing on NBS TV’s Morning Breeze show last week.

“What we do in accordance with the law and in exercising our mandate as per the constitution, when you release a program, you subject it to stakeholders.”

He explained that stakeholders and other members of the public can send in their views about the election roadmap after it has been released and not before.

This way, Taremwa said amendments can be done but within the time limits as given by the Electoral Commission.

Earlier, the Electoral Commission chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama had said  the revised program is not cast in stone and can be changed.

"These measures are not cast in stone and if experts tell us we can resume life as normal as has been the case, we shall inform candidates on what to do," he said.

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