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DP Wants 2021 Polls Postponed Until COVID Threat is No More

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.
07 Jul 2020 16:11
DP President Norbert Mao.

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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 minimum.   

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 that.  

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