Political activist and four time presidential contender, Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye has expressed concern over the mass campaign rallies being held by various political candidates including the FDC’s Patrick Amuriat Oboi, and Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine of National Unity Platform (NUP).
Bobi Wine and Amuriat are supposed to appear before the Electoral Commission today Monday to explain their alleged failure to observe Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) set by the Electoral Commission and Ministry of Health for the campaigns.
The public health guidelines allow an election rally to have a maximum of 200 people in a bid to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
While appearing on NTV on Monday, Besigye who is also a medical doctor by profession, said, he was “intensely” concerned about the crowds being pulled by the candidates especially Bobi Wine and Amuriat, and added that campaigns should not have happened at this time.
“Right from the onset of the pandemic, I took very keen interest, I published weekly briefings about COVID-19. I have been deeply involved in the whole pandemic. So, I cannot fail to be very concerned about what is going on in the campaigns relating to the spread of COVID-19,” he replied.
It should be noted that Bobi Wine has in this election campaign been blocked by the security agencies from campaigning in at least 27 districts over failure to observe COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
As a result, he and his supporters have on a daily basis been engaged in running battles with Police as they get dispersed with teargas and bullets.
Asked how best these campaigns should have been conducted, Besigye said, “The best way was simply not to have campaigns at this time. Why? Because, as I have told you, it is absolutely ridiculous in a country whose media penetration I have already talked about (controlled by top Government officials and candidates subscribing to the ruling party) to imagine that you can have what you call scientific or digital campaigns. Whoever owns a radio is theirs [belongs to Government]. Others who are challenging them [Government] have no access to these radios. Even when you pay exorbitantly for airtime on those radios, you are stopped.”
“We should never have had these campaigns,” Besigye reiterated.
The law, he said provides a path that could avoid campaigns until the country is free from COVID-19.
In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, President Museveni said it would be madness for anyone to organize elections during COVID-19 crisis.
Commenting on that, Besigye said, “the only reason he (Museveni) chose to take the dangerous path (to allow scientific campaigns) was because it dawned on him that if elections were postponed, there is no path in the law that could allow him to continue in office after May 2021.”
“This would mean that after May 2021 when Museveni’s term of office would end, the Speaker of Parliament would take over,” he said.