The Electoral Commission (EC) on Thursday came out to affirm that President Yoweri Museveni as a candidate and participant in the electoral process, is subject to campaign rules and not exempted as some Ugandans have been led to believe.
Sam Rwakoojo, the commission secretary told Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee that President Museveni too is required to adhere to stipulated rules both at the Presidential and Constituency levels.
He noted in fact that in the 2016 general elections, President Museveni was barred from holding a rally in Ntungamo past the stipulated time.
“He called the then chairperson and it was approaching six and the chairman said you cannot campaign after six o’clock. He cancelled that rally” Rwakoojo said.
Rwakoojo and other officials from the commission were meeting MPs on the legal affairs committee to comment on government’s recently tabled electoral reform bills.
His argument was supported by EC Chairperson Simon Byabakama, who also pointed out instances where President Museveni has been barred for campaigning for his National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidates due to varying reasons.
One such incident, he recalled, was during the 2017 Kyadondo East By-elections where President Museveni was denied space to mobilize for NRM’s Kennedy Sebalu, since the venue was to be used by Apollo Kantinti, the Forum for Democratic Change’s (FDC) candidate.
“We advised the NRM party and said the President cannot come to campaign because the venue has already been booked. We dismantled what had been set up and they went away” Byabakama said.
The commission officials however, had to fend off numerous concerns raised the MPs.
Busiro East legislator Medard Segona reminded them how in the same election, then independent contestant Robert Kyagulanyi was removed from a campaign venue at Kasangati.
“Are you also aware of an occasion where Hon Kyagulanyi was supposed to campaign in Kasangati but because the chairman of the NRM was coming, he was arrested and upon release forced to go to Gayaza?” Segona asked.
On this however, Byabakama stressed that this decision was taken because the designated venue was alarmingly close to a health facility.