Uganda’s 2021 general elections hang in the balance after President Yoweri Museveni said it would be suicidal for Ugandans to go to the polls when the country is still battling the Covid-19 pandemic that is ravaging countries across the world.
In a rare exclusive local TV interview in recent times, set to be aired on Monday evening -Museveni said it would be unwise for people to gather in an election season that could lead to the spread of the deadly coronavirus. “ It will be madness to say you go and people gather . I don’t think it will be wise”, Museveni said when asked about the possibility of holding the elections in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic .
Uganda was set to hold general elections in early 2021 but with the president’s remarks it seems most unlikely that Ugandans will choose their leaders for the next five years as scheduled .
The Electoral Commission , the body charged with managing elections in Uganda was tight lipped about the new development although sources intimated that officials led by the Electoral Commission Chairman Justice Simon Byakagaba were consulting widely about the next course of action.
Already , section of Uganda’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have called for the postponement of the general elections arguing that the Electoral Commission didn’t have sufficient time left to hold the elections as earlier planned .
In the TV interview to be aired on Monday at 9pm local time, President Museveni also hit out at opposition politicians who accused him of taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic to gain political capital calling them “Idiots”. “Who could wish for this so that I speak and become popular ?. That’s rubbish , idiots”, Museveni added.
The legal and financial cost of postponing a general election will be quite significant and it cant be helped by the fact that a considerable amount of national resources have been invested in the emergency responses against the Covid-19 crisis, areas hit by floods due to the on going heavy rains and the locust’s invasion. “ The resource envelop is simply oversubscribed right now to undertake such an expensive enterprise like the general elections. If we go ahead with the elections, it will not be fair to all the players. The logical thing to do would be to push the elections forward for at least a year,” a political commentator who preferred not to be named stated.
Uganda has already lost two months according to the general elections road map that was released by the Electoral Commission.
But other independent elections observers include Mr. Crispin Kaheru, who has called upon the government to follow the South Korea example where they have successfully held their legislative elections while observing strict health measures including social distancing and washing hands to avoid contracting the deadly virus in an elections season. “ Therefore, what Uganda needs is probably not postponing the election, but rather integrating health and safety measures in its electoral framework, Kaheru said.
At least fifty-three (53) countries and territories across the globe have decided to postpone national and subnational elections due to COVID-19, out of which at least eighteen (18) countries and territories have decided to postpone national elections and referendums;
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