Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Former security minister Lt Gen. Henry Tumukunde who at the beginning of this year declared his interest to contest for the presidency has called for a postponement of the 2021 general election.
Speaking to journalists at his home in Kololo, Tumukunde said it’s impractical to have ‘meaningful’ elections in the country where people can choose their leaders in a free and fair manner going by the revised roadmap of the electoral commission.
Last week, the Electoral Commission chairman Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama said they were pushing ahead with the elections amidst the coronavirus pandemic scare in order to comply with the dictates of the constitution. Under article 61  of the constitution, the Electoral Commission is mandated to organize an election in the first 30 days of the last 122 days to the expiry of the term of office of the president, parliament or local government.
However, Byabakama said despite pushing ahead with the elections, it doesn’t mean that they are oblivious of the danger posed by the coronavirus. To reduce on the risk, he said they were banning all open-air campaigns in favour of digital campaigning where candidates use the media.
But to Tumukunde, this is a nonstarter especially when one considers the ownership of media in Uganda.
He called on the Electoral Commission to continue engaging all stakeholders in order to agree on a compromise position. He said elections in the past have caused a war in Uganda which resulted into the NRM taking over power in 1986, therefore they shouldn’t be played with.
However speaking yesterday to political party leaders under their umbrella organization National Consultative Forum, Byabakama said they have no powers to amend the law to extend the election or declare a state of emergency which would enable the extension of the election. “Extending an election is a work of another agency; if it tells us to stop, we will stop,” said Byabakama.
Asked what he would do where the Electoral Commission refuses to adhere to his proposals, Tumukunde said he’s consulting with other opposition political players to come up with a common ground. He added that if they are unsuccessful in stopping the Electoral Commission from organizing next years’ elections and there is no united front against it, then he will have no doubt but to be part of it.
“We shall do everything possible to stop a negative election or a wrongly done election from taking place and once we discuss and agree on a position, I will be with them. I don’t have to be escorting them but I’m dependable and you can count on me. If their position doesn’t favour my deep thinking on the matter, I will choose the course of the group that I’m leading,” said Tumukunde.