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IPOD members engage EC on conducting an election with integrity

FILE PHOTO: Ugandans voting at the previous election.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Political parties under the Interparty Organization for Dialogue-IPOD have asked the Electoral Commission-EC to engage various political players to harmonise the revised electoral roadmap as the country battles COVID 19. The matter came up during a discussion between the parties and EC held at Sheraton Hotel in Kampala under the theme “Delivering Safe and Credible Elections amidst COVID 19 in Uganda”.

Recently, EC released a revised roadmap having lost three months of the earlier roadmap due to the Covid-19 lockdown. However, the commission scrapped public campaigns in the revised roadmap saying they attract crowds which may fuel the spread of COVID 19.

The EC advised candidates to resort to virtual campaigns to reach out to their voters triggering a heated public debate. EC chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama said the commission would issue guidelines on how the roadmap would be implemented.

Jimmy Akena, the president of Uganda Peoples’ Congress says the Electoral Commission should engage different agencies of government and harmonies guidelines on how the road-map will be implemented.

Akena says the commission needs to engage the Ministry of Health and security agencies to avoid colliding with politicians as they conduct business.

Norbert Mao, the president of the Democratic Party who has asked parliament to discuss the possibility of postponing the election says the country cannot treat the election as a do or die affair. He invited the commission to dialogue with different political players on how to proceed.

National Resistance Movement-NRM party secretary general Justine Lumumba who says the election shouldn’t be postponed asked the Commission to devise ways to ensure that people in different areas like those at the border access information through media.

Some areas at the border listen to radios from neighbouring countries. Lumumba says the country cannot count on candidates going to radio stations in neighbouring countries to reach out to people inside Uganda’s border areas.

Mugisha Muntu, the presidential candidate of the Alliance for National Transformation asked the Ministry of Health through the Commission to conduct a study in busy areas like taxi parks and Kikuubo so as to inform on the impact of crowds amidst COVID 19. Muntu says that the large numbers in such areas are like a daily rally and that their existence beats the logic behind banning rallies.

Justice Simon Byabakama said the Commission is open to suggestions and will continue engaging with different stakeholders and consider their suggestions. He says they are also thinking about how else campaigns can be conducted outside media outlets.

Frank Rusa, the Country Representative of the Netherlands Institute of Multiparty Democracy says it is fortunate that political heads are willing to dialogue on the issues of the roadmap so as to harmonize it. ******

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