- President Museveni was endorsed as sole candidate of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) by the Parliamentary caucus and the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the party earlier this year.
- The NRM Secretariat spokesperson, Mr Rogers Mulindwa, defended the President saying the endorsements and talk of 2021 elections at the ongoing rallies are brought up by the locals who speak in appreciation of the developments the government has made in their areas.
Kampala. The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Justice Simon Byabakama, has said he is not aware that President Museveni is involving himself in early campaigns with about one and half years remaining to the 2021 General Election.
Opposition politicians have decried Mr Museveni’s free run of campaigns at the expense of his likely challengers who the security agencies are blocking from conducting meetings across the country.
The Opposition say the President is using his office and public resources to campaign for his 2021 bid, something they feel is not giving them a levelled ground to compete fairly.
But Justice Byabakama said during a media briefing at the EC headquarters in Kampala on Thursday that what he has known from the media is that Mr Museveni is touring the country to preach wealth creation.
He was releasing the programme for the Nebbi District chairperson by-election scheduled for July 11 to replace the late Esrom William Alenyo, who passed on in September last year.
Justice Byabakama said the law only permits anyone aspiring to contest for presidency to conduct consultative meetings around the country but not holding rallies and processions until they are nominated as candidates.
“With reference to the President, I don’t want to be his spokesperson. But what I know is that the President continues to execute his mandate as head of state. I read in papers that he is addressing rallies on poverty eradication,” Justice Byabakama said while responding to questions raised by journalists.
He implored journalists to investigate the allegations of President Museveni’s early campaigns and inform the Commission.
But he said the law is silent on what would be done for such aspirants that go into early campaigns and giving out donations to voters.
“That is for you to do your investigative journalism. If you find that the President is campaigning then alert the Commission,” he said, adding: “Consultations does not mean you hold a rally or procession. A campaign rally is a different scenario from consultations.”
According to the EC roadmap for the 2021 General Election, nomination of Presidential candidates is scheduled for August 2020.
The elections are expected to be conducted in January 2021.
Last week, the EC issued a guideline warning aspirant candidates on all elective positions to desist from activities that contravene the electoral laws.
The statement, issued on May 17, 2019, stated: “The Electoral Commission has noted with concern that a number of persons aspiring for various elective positions in the General Election, 2021 have started conducting public meetings supposedly to consult the electorate in preparations for the candidature in the 2021 Elections. At this moment in the electoral calendar, there are no persons nominated as candidates for Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Councils elections. All aspirants are therefore, urged to refrain from engaging in active campaigns for these elective positions.”
It added: “Given the disruptive nature of processions to the public, aspirants are barred from conducting processions on public roads.”
It, however, guided that internal processes within parties with the view of identifying candidates for the upcoming election exercise were not barred.
President Museveni was endorsed as sole candidate of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) by the Parliamentary caucus and the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the party earlier this year.
This means the party’s delegates conference is expected in June 2020, according to the roadmap launched in January this year by the Secretary General, Ms Justine Kasule Lumumba.
So far, in the ongoing tours, Mr Museveni’s sole candidature for the NRM the flag has been endorsed by the local government leaders in Tooro, Bunyoro and Lango sub-regions among others.
From the Opposition, so far, Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, has publically declared his aspiration to contest for presidency in 2021 under his fast growing “People Power” platform.
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) kingmakers still have Dr Kizza Besigye, a candidate for their party in 2021 though he is yet to declare as he concentrates on a campaign to capture state power before then.
However, Dr Besigye and Bobi Wine have had a share of their frustration from the police as their planned meetings across the country have been blocked in recent months.
Police spokesperson Fred Enanga yesterday told Saturday Monitor that they have not blocked any presidential aspirant from holding consultative meetings as provided for in the Presidential Elections Act.
Mr Enanga said the law provides that such consultative meetings, an aspirant shall notify the EC and the relevant authorities including the police, adding that what Dr Besigye and Bobi Wine are engaged in are different activities.
“We are not blocking any presidential aspirant from consulting. Those consultations can go on because they are provided for in the law. Section 3 of the Presidential Elections Act provides that they should consult in a strict manner. And also pressure groups are not provided for in the Act,” he said.
Ms Ingrid Turinawe, the FDC Secretary for Mobilisation faulted the EC for looking on when Mr Museveni is campaigning everywhere and the Opposition are being restricted by the security.
Ms Turinawe, who has been by the side of Dr Besigye and FDC president Patrick Amuriat Oboi during moments of interruption and arrests by the police, said the party has now resorted to underground consultations since meetings are no longer allowed.
“Of course, he (Museveni) is campaigning and is using national resources. For us we have been denied the opportunity to mobilise and organise. We are going to organise underground because that is where has pushed us and I hope he will not regret the impact and the result of that,” Ms Turinawe said.
The NRM Secretariat spokesperson, Mr Rogers Mulindwa, defended the President saying the endorsements and talk of 2021 elections at the ongoing rallies are brought up by the locals who speak in appreciation of the developments the government has made in their areas.
He said the President only talks about the achievements his government has so far made on the Manifesto for which he was re-elected in 2016.
“There are a lot of things under implementation as per the Manifesto on which NRM was given a five year mandate. The President being the Chief Executive of this country, he is mandated to monitor the progress of this work, commission the completed ones and meet the people he leads,” he said.
Mr Mulindwa said there is no way the President can “shy away” from the people he leads.
“As he reaches out, the excited masses given the infrastructure developments in their areas, they promise him another term. He has not been anywhere and ask for a vote. It is their wish as supporters,” he added.