Election 2016Politics

INSIDE STORY: Why Museveni Refused to Attend Presidential Debate

Hopes that NRM Candidate Yoweri Museveni will change his mind and attend the presidential debate have been dashed after State House officials told organisers that the head-of-state will be busy attending to other equally important issues,  Chimp Corps report.

Sources said State House and NRM Secretariat on Friday communicated to the Inter Religious Council which is organising the debate about Museveni’s absence.

In the letter,  the organisers were told that Museveni has “four scheduled rallies in western Uganda with the last one in Ishaka ending at 6:00pm” and that he would later meet “members of the NRM Women’s league at Rwakitura.”

Asked why Museveni chose not to attend the debate,  intelligence sources said he was not provided with questions which would be asked during the debate.

Elders’ Forum Chairman and former Principal Judge James Ogoola said the organisers could not release the questions to candidates so as to test how they would react to surprises.

Museveni’s aides suspected a plan to humiliate the president.

The second reason why Museveni chose to quit was that the debate was being funded at the tune of over Shs300m by foreign donors.

“This whole thing looks like a booby trap. There are foreign interests in it. We are just being cautious especially at this time when we are on the final stretch of the campaign trail,” revealed an intelligence source.

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The third reason is that intelligence suspected that the organisers of the debate intended to help Amama Mbabazi gain political capital from the function by asking him leading questions.

“The invitation of Allan Kasujja as a moderator, who is well known to be so close to Mbabazi raised eyebrows.  We were suspicious of the arrangements of the debate, the organisers’ motives and foreign hand,” the source added.

“So we told the party chairman that we were uncomfortable with this thing and advised him to ignore it and move on. It is up to him to decide but we are totally opposed to seeing our leader fall in a trap which can be avoided.”

A survey conducted by research firm Ipsos between August 20 and 31, 2015 showed that television reach although still low, has had a huge impact on driving opinion and forming debate.

27 percent of Ugandans have access to television.

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