EC defends ban on campaigns amid contradicting Covid figures

Wednesday December 30 2020

Mr Paul Bukenya. PHOTO/FILE

By Shabibah Nakirigya

The Electoral Commission (EC) yesterday remained defiant even in the face of official Ministry of Health figures contradicting its decision to ban campaign meetings in some districts.

The electoral body maintained that the candidates remain very exposed to Covid -19 because they campaign without masks in areas where cases of the pandemic are high.

Due to the surging Covid-19 infections, EC at the weekend suspended campaign meetings in Kampala and 15 other districts and cities in the country.
Speaking to Daily Monitor yesterday, the EC spokesperson, Mr Paul Bukenya, said all the decisions they made are within their mandate as EC and they considered stakeholders in whatever they did.

“We have shown them why this decision was taken; it is to control the spread of Covid-19 because this is a public health issue and it should be a concern to all candidates,” he said.

Mr Bukenya added that the suspension has affected all candidates, including those of the ruling NRM, and that the Opposition should not think they are being targeted.

“We suspended meetings but people can still use other forms we advocated for, which are non-contact and these include brochures, flyers, electronic media, bill boards, posters and print media,” he said.


Mr Bukenya added that EC has been having meetings and consultations with all stakeholders about the matter.

This comes a day after Daily Monitor provided Ministry of Health data, showing how Covid-19 numbers contradicted the EC’s decision to ban campaign meetings.

It merged that half of the 16 districts in which EC suspended campaigns, each cumulatively registered less than 400 infections in 10 months.    
The Uganda Young Democrats (UYD) yesterday weighed in and asked EC to have a stakeholders’ meeting regarding the suspension of the campaign meetings.

‘Illegal ban’
Speaking to journalists at their weekly press conference, UYD president Ismail Kirya said suspending campaign meetings without consulting stakeholders was unlawful.

“We are aware that every candidate has an agent and EC had the option to call all the agents on what they are proposing before the suspension, which is unlawful,” he said.

Mr Kirya added that the EC chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama, should revise what he said on Saturday.
“The Ministry of Health gave us guidelines to follow in these campaign meetings and we expect any guidelines concerning Covid-19 to come from the ministry,  not EC,” he said.

At the same briefing, UYD gave security agencies a five-day ultimatum to bring to book the officers who were allegedly involved in the killing of Mr Kyagulanyi’s body guard, Francis Senteza Kalibala.  
Mr Kyagulanyi insists that an army truck ran over his body guard but the Force says he met his death after falling off a moving vehicle.

“If we fail to see this in five days, DP through UYD are going to resort to other means to demand for this because all Ugandans are waiting for this and crying because of police brutality,” he said.