Kampala- Several Ugandans have expressed frustration and disappointment over President Museveni’s absence from the country’s first ever live presidential debate last Friday.
In a mini-survey, many residents said the President, who has been in power for 30 years, should have appeared to show the other seven candidates vying for his seat in next month’s election that he is still the best leader of the country.
“But why did President Museveni fail to show up? As his supporter, I wanted him to enumerate various achievements of his government,” said Mr Bonny Ogal, a boda boda rider, in Lira Town yesterday. “He has disappointed me yet I have been voting him,” Mr Ogal added.
On Friday, Prof Venansius Baryamureeba, Ms Maureen Kyalya, Dr Kizza Besigye, Mr Joseph Mabirizi, Maj Gen Benon Biraaro and Mr Amama Mbabazi took to the rostrum to tell Ugandans why they are best suited for the first country’s number one job.
President Museveni, who did not turn up on that day, on Sunday said debates are speech competitions that should be left to high school students. He also said he could not leave his busy campaign schedule to attend such function.
Retired Kitgum Diocese Bishop Macleord Baker Ochola expressed disappointment over the President’s decision to stay away from the debate, saying the nation expected him to tell Ugandans of his future plans.
Bishop Ochola said Prof Baryamureeba and Ms Kyalya were the best debaters who articulated well the issues of moving away from military rule.
Ms Miriam Berochan, a waitress in Layibi Division, Gulu Municipality, said the debate was useless without the NRM presidential candidate.
Mr Charles Ojok, a produce dealer, said Mr Museveni did well not to appear for the show.
“It is good that President Museveni never showed up because he was going to be embarrassed with questions some of which were directed to Mbabazi,” Mr Ojok said.
However, others focussed on the impact of the debate. Ms Consolate Berochan of Ojwina Division, Lira Municipality, said all the presidential candidates spoke well.
“It was nice because they highlighted all the issues I wanted to hear such as the need for a transition. I want to be ruled by another person so that I can see how someone else will lead Uganda,” she said.
Mr Warren J. Kule, an online reader, said the debate showed Uganda has matured democratically.
“I am glad that the seven candidates presented their ideas and Ugandans should really select a president from among them. I am disappointed that Mr Museveni chose to occupied himself with other issues probably because issues at hand do not concern him,” Mr Kule said.
Mr Benson Sabiti, an online reader, said: “The candidates did very well. But the moderators, especially Allan Kasujja, were poor. Kasujja appeared to have a personal vendetta against Dr Besigye and Mr Mbabazi and yet a moderator is supposed to be neutral.”