Luwero District Returning Officer Nathan Nabaasa asked candidates who intend to use outdoor megaphone community radios for their campaigns, to submit details about their activities to him, with a copy to the Police. Nabaasa also cautioned candidates against attracting crowds.
Parliamentary Candidates in Luwero district have
disagreed with the Electoral Commission Registrar and Police Commander on the
guidelines for using outdoor megaphone community radios during campaigns.
The candidates convened at
Luwero district headquarters on Thursday to harmonize their programmes in preparation for campaigns that are slated to start officially on November 9, 2020, and run until January 12, 2021.
But during the meeting, Luwero District Returning Officer Nathan
Nabaasa asked candidates who intend to use outdoor megaphone community radios for their campaigns, to submit details about their activities to him, with a copy to the Police. Nabaasa also cautioned candidates against attracting
He added that those who fail to notify the police in advance will be charged for breach of the guidelines, as issued by both the Electoral Commission and Ministry of Health in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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But the majority of the candidates rejected the directive saying
it was wastage of time and an infringement on freedom of expression. They added that the same information might be used
against them by the Police force if released ahead of time.
Prossy Najjuka, an independent candidate in the District MP race said that the general campaign programme shared with EC was enough. Najjuka also questioned how Police will implement the
guidelines in situations that a candidate may want to be hosted beyond curfew and campaign
time since these are hours which attract large listenership.
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Shifah Nanyanzi, the JEEMA candidate in the same race questioned why the Police and the EC restrict people from converging at outdoor megaphones community radios but fail to stop weddings and
burials which attract more than a thousand people. Nanyanzi said the guidelines are only brought up to stop them from visiting the community megaphones.
Robert Ssekitoleko, the National Unity Platform candidate in Bamunanika
County says that it was risky for him to notify Police on which outdoor megaphone community radio
to use because some of its agents could be used by rivals to block access on them.
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Hassan Kirumira, the NUP candidate for Katikamu North warned
Police against using COVID-19 to infringe on freedom of expression. He also used the meeting to condemn Policemen for being partisan and for the selective application of the COVID-19 rules.
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Other candidates told the Luwero District Police Commander and
Nathan Nabaasa, the EC Returning Officer to forget about the programme for the community
megaphone shows. They instead asked Policemen to remain neutral and treat all candidates equally in campaigns.
But Abraham Tukundane, the Luwero District Police Commander said
that any candidate who doesn’t submit the programme for the community megaphone
shows will face off with Police. Tukundane added that the submission of the programme was for their benefit
and to avoid clashes with each other.
He also rejected calls for candidates to be hosted on
megaphones or community radios beyond curfew time saying he can't bend the Presidential directives.
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Patricia Magara, the NRM candidate for Katikamu South asked fellow candidates
to observe the guidelines and share programmes for their community radio shows, saying "the plan is in good faith"
Luwero district has no radio and as result, most candidates are targeting the megaphones erected in villages to disseminate their campaign messages.