Politics

Scientific Campaigns are Unconstitutional, Party Secretary Generals Tell EC

Secretary Generals of different political parties have invalidated moves by the Uganda Electoral body to hold scientific campaigns saying it is unconstitutional.

Leaders belonging to the Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) umbrella made these remarks on Friday, June 19, 2020, during a consultative meeting with the Electoral Commission (EC) held in Kampala.

It is understood that early this week EC released a revised road map which abolished open-air campaigns as a means to contain the raging Covid-19 Pandemic.

However, while speaking today, Mohammed Kateregga the Justice Forum (JEEMA) Secretary-General said much as the Electoral Commission is trying best to hold a safe and credible poll, it goes against the tenets of the law.

“We believe that these guidelines are firstly in contravention of sections 21 (2) of the Presidential Elections Act and Section 20(7) of the Parliamentary Elections Act,” Kateregga explained.

As such, he intimated that an innovative approach would only qualify if amendments were made to the above-mentioned laws.

Commenting on the same issue, Kateregga warned that adopting the recently released revised road map nonchalantly could mar the credibility of the 2021 General Elections.

Notably, he mentioned demographic challenges saying a considerable number of Uganda’s rural citizenry lacks access to different media platforms as well as gagging tendencies by the regime.

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“Many of the private media houses in Uganda are owned by political leaders who will most likely not make them available to politicians of different ideological leanings,” he retorted.

He also expressed concern on whether media outlets shall ably handle the campaigns for different candidates across the board.

“We are also concerned about the practicality of apportioning adequate airtime on the various media outlets to cater for the different layers of elective positions whose campaigns are happening concurrently,” Kateregga said.

The JEEMA Secretary-General also whined about scanty time for Political Party Primaries, verification of candidate’s academic credentials, and selection of flag bearers.

Going forward, he advised EC to find a way on how they can hold both digital and physical campaigns altogether so as not to disenfranchise the Ugandans.

“It could consider allowing physical campaign gatherings especially in areas with zero or very low incidences of COVID-19 infections,” Kateregga proposed.

“For example, a candidate could be allowed to engage with a maximum of 200 agents at a time observing the standard health guidelines on social distancing and wearing of masks,” he added.

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