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Court: EC Right to Ban Campaigns in COVID-19 Hotspots

Court has dismissed a petition filed seeking to quash the recent directive issued by the Electoral Commission (EC) Chairman Justice Simon Byabakama to ban election campaigns in Kampala and other districts identified as Covid-19 hotspots.

Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, as a concerned citizen, submitted that the directive was unconstitutional as it was just issued in a press statement without any legal provisions backing it up as required by law.

Justice Musa Ssekaana this Monday morning ruled that the decision of the EC contained in a press statement dated 26th December 2020 “indefinitely suspending campaign meetings in Kampala Capital City and some other districts is a violation of freedoms of expression, Assemble and association but the limitation of the enjoyment of those freedoms is demonstrably justifiable due to the prevailing Covid-19 infections in those areas.”

The judge added: “There was no breach of right to a fair hearing since the respondent was not sitting as a tribunal. There was justification for dispensing with the right to be heard due to urgency and emergency in order to stop the spread of the corona virus.”

The ruling means campaign meetings won’t be held in the contested areas.

Justice Ssekaana said, “In the premises, I find the application devoid of merit and thereby dismiss it with no order as to costs. It is so ordered.”

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Lukwago won’t appeal the ruling as there is limited time ahead of the elections.

Presidential and Parliamentary elections are slated for this Thursday, January 14, 2021.

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