By Dedan Kimathi
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Presidential candidate Patrick Amiriat, has vowed to continue holding rallies in areas designated as COVID-19 hotspots including Jinja today December 27.
Electoral Commission (EC) Spokesperson Paul Bukenya on Sunday said no campaigns would be allowed in Kampala, Wakiso, Kasese, Masaka, Kalungu, Kabarole, Jinja, Mbarara, Luwero, Tororo, Kazo and Tororo.
“All candidates’ meetings in these areas are hereby suspended until further notice and candidates are advised to restrict themselves to virtual campaigns-radios, televisions, social media, community based public address systems (Kizindaalo) and other online platforms,” he observed.
This development took Amuriat by surprise.
At a stopover in Sembabule Town Council on December 26, Amuriat warned authorities to prepare for the worst.
“I think that we are bracing ourselves for a really big fight with the Electoral Commission and Uganda Police,” Amuriat roared.
“The Electoral Commission has to explain to us, how they expect us to carry out campaigns in these major towns. As far as we are concerned; tomorrow (today) we are in Jinja and everything will go as normal. We are going to wait for the Electoral Commission to do as it wants to do,” he added.
Amuriat claimed EC’s pronouncement could be a planned move to deter him from sweeping President Yoweri Museveni’s support base in those specific areas.
Amuriat together with the Party’s top brass who included Wasswa Birigwa and Rukungiri Municipality Legislator Roland Kaginda Mugume met at Highway hotel in Masaka Town to chart a way forward.
A source who did not want his name disclosed because he’s not authorized to speak to the media, told Chimp Reports that the group decided to disintegrate into three batches to hoodwink security.
“The president will set off from his home in Najeera at 4:00 AM enroute to Kamuli where he plans to celebrate mass. He will be joined by Salaamu Musumba (the aspiring Kamuli Woman MP),” a source intimated.
“We have already sent an advance team on the ground and another party will be departing for Jinja on the same day (December 27) at 6:00 am,” he hinted.
The EC said it’s decision followed a meeting with the Ministry of Health experts on December 23, 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,” said EC chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama.
FDC said the suspension of campaigns by Byabakama in certain areas will affect Amuriat badly.
He is expected in Jinja today; Tororo on December 28; Luweero on January 2; Mbarara on January 3; Kasese on January 5; Wakiso on January 9, 2021 and Kampala on January 11-12, 2021.
The EC recently warned presidential candidates against holding holding campaign rallies to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
Opposition candidates refused to comply with EC’s warnings, saying the restrictions were aimed at sabotaging their campaigns to favour the incumbent.
According to the Ministry of Health, it is a violation of the Campaign Guidelines for a candidate and his/her agents to mobilize and/or encourage supporters to gather at campaign venues in large numbers as it contravenes The Public Health (Control of COVID-19) (Amendment No.3) Rules, 2020, issued on 9th November 2020, which provides that gatherings for purposes of political meetings should not exceed two hundred (200) persons.