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UPC already preparing for virtual campaigns – Akena

UPC President Jimmy Akena. Courtesy photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party President Jimmy Akena says that they are ready to participate in the 2021 general election despite several challenges posed by the revised roadmap recently issued by the Electoral Commission (EC).

UPC becomes the first Opposition political party to support the proposed virtual campaigns amidst calls for postponement from other opposition groups who have expressed reservations over the election roadmap through which the Electoral Commission banned open-air campaigns and advised candidates to use virtual platforms to reach their electorate.

Those who have called for a postponement include the Forum for Democratic Change, the Democratic Party and Justice Forum, who have since recommended a postponement of the polls until threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic are dealt with. DP President Nobert Mao, for instance said that the infrastructure for digital campaigns is inadequate, too costly and inaccessible yet still it does not have a legal basis.

But Akena told the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament that his party is preparing to conform to the revised roadmap despite different envisaged challenges.

Akena however expressed reservations on timelines set out by the Electoral Commission saying that they are so compressed to allow different internal party processes of identifying flag bearers.

Committee vice-chairman Sam Bitangaro tasked Akena to confirm whether UPC is prepared to go ahead with the elections to which he emphasized that they are prepared even though there are some areas in the road map where it is going to be difficult to conform which will eventually affect the credibility of the electoral process.

He specifically pointed out the proposed digital campaigns which he says will be difficult to implement especially at the lower level of sub-county councilors and chairpersons. He said that there are no candidates who can run media campaigns since they require resources to pay radio Stations and televisions to campaign.

But Bugweri County MP Abdu Katuntu wondered why the UPC President Jimmy Akena thinks that the country will be able to conduct a credible election under the revised roadmap yet political parties are also already finding it difficult to hold internal elections under the circumstances.

Akena said that UPC has already appealed to the EC about the different party activities entailing meetings and candidates campaigning at different levels yet the guidelines issued are not clear on the required numbers. “So we requested EC with the involvement of Health Ministry and security teams to make it very clear as to how we can handle certain aspects”  Akena said.

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