DP President General Nobert Mao says that the proposed campaign plan discredits the Constitutional right of Ugandans to free, fair and credible elections. He says that at the moment, the infrastructure for digital campaigns is inadequate, too costly and inaccessible, yet still, it does not have a legal basis.
The Democratic Party (DP) has suggested
that Parliament postpones the 2021general election until the COVID-threat of 19 is no longer a
factor. They argue that in the event that the elections are not postponed, the government
can consider ignoring the risk of infection and choose to take precautions
during electoral activities.
The views were submitted to the
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, in reference to a
recent roadmap released by the Electoral Commission ahead of the general election
planned for February 2021. In the roadmap, the commission banned open-air campaigns
and suggested that candidates use virtual platforms to reach their electorate.
But DP President General Nobert
Mao says that the proposed campaign plan discredits the Constitutional right of
Ugandans to free, fair and credible elections. He says that at the moment, the infrastructure
for digital campaigns is inadequate, too costly and inaccessible, yet still, it
does not have a legal basis.
“DP believes that elections
cannot just be reduced to the act of casting ballots. Elections must provide
for active engagements between the voters and those seeking to be elected to
public offices.” Mao said. He added that his party believes that the threat of COVID-19
is being exaggerated to rig elections by undermining the will of the people.
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Mao demanded that President
Yoweri Museveni declares a state of emergency and postpones the election if the
threat of coronavirus disease in so grave. He wondered why a government which
insists that the threat of COVID-19 is so grave and therefore necessitating a
ban on public gatherings finds it unnecessary to declare a state of emergency
in order to allow for flexibility in implementing the election time table.
He maintained that the proposed campaigns
do not meet the constitutional standard for free, fair and credible elections
and that the proposed changes in the revised roadmap have a number of legal and
operational challenges that need reflection and discussion.
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According to Mao, the Electoral
Commission should consider a hybrid of measures that have both digital and
physical campaign engagements for example allowing physical campaigns in areas
with zero or low incidences of COVID-19 infections and also consider campaign
number thresholds to allow candidates interface with their agents at a
In the event that the COVID-19 pandemic
continues to make it difficult for physical meetings, Mao said that the
Electoral Commission should consider engaging all other stakeholders like the
Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), office of the Attorney General and
others to cause such amendments to the law that will provide equitable access
to state and non-state media and also provision of necessary financial support
to political parties to buy reasonable amounts of media time.
The DP President General says
that all efforts have to be undertaken to ensure that elections are credible,
free and fair and that the country should not have anything less than