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Parties Feel Pinch of Ban on Political Gatherings

Leaders of the opposition political parties who spoke to Uganda Radio Network have misgivings about the presidential directive.
Political party leaders including President Museveni at the openning of the IPOD Summit

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Leaders of various political parties have expressed mixed reactions on how banning political activities will impact the implementation of their electoral road map.  

On Wednesday, President Yoweri Museveni directed among others, that political gatherings and activities should be halted for 32 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease.

However, to comply with the presidential directive, the Electoral Commission has since halted all activities on its 2020/2021 electoral road map.        

As a result, political parties and organisations are also required to comply with the presidential directive and halt implementation of their respective electoral road maps.  

  

Now, according to the road map of the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement- NRM, between February and March this year, it would be registering members and also encourage them to participate in the display exercise of the National Voters’ Register.        

However, Dr Tanga Odoi the NRM Electoral Commission chairperson says that the party will only release its road map after the 32 days.    

Leaders of the opposition political parties who spoke to Uganda Radio Network have misgivings about the presidential directive.          

Muzafalu Ssentongo, the Secretary-General of Green Partisan Party says though it is meant to save lives, the directive will have a great impact on the party’s activities.

He says that the party, with about 400 members has however been mobilising across the country and therefore can resume activities after 32 days.    

        

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Sulaiman Kakaire, the spokesperson for the Alliance for National Transformation, welcomes the directive to ensure safety and wellbeing of Ugandans, He, however, says the newly formed party is feeling the pinch after suspending its activities.       

The party had planned to hold district mobilization meetings in Rukungiri, Lira, Kaberamaido and Kapchorwa from March 18th to 1st April 2020.  

Also affected are the youth and women’s league sub-regional training in West Nile, Acholi, Teso, Kigezi, Lango, Bugisu, South Buganda and Toro. These training were scheduled from March 23rd- 10th April 2020.  

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The Secretary-General of the Democratic Party, Dr, Gerald Siranda says that the party had planned to hold elections at the village, parish, Sub County, constituency and district levels for committees of the youth and women between February and March this year. Thereafter prepare for and hold the National Delegates Conference in Gulu on March 28th to elect the National Executive Committee, National Executive Committees for the youth and women.

In April, the party would be planning to hold primaries for its candidates in the parliamentary and local government elections and also select a joint presidential candidate.      

Siranda thereby says that the presidential directive on political parties will affect operations of political parties amidst time and financial constraints.

For instance, the party had to meet 120 leaders from the 9 sub-counties of Pallisa County yesterday. To comply with the directive, the meeting was not held and yet the party had already spent shillings 3.2 million on the event and only got a refund of shillings 400,000 for the venue.

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Michael Osinde, the spokesperson of the Uganda People’s Congress, says that the party will comply with the directive although it had been preparing its members to participate in the elections, special interest groups.

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However, Abdu-Noor Ssentongo Kyamundu, the spokesperson of Justice Forum-Jeema has downplayed the impact of the directive due to the clampdown on opposition political parties and politicians in the recent past.

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