Presidential candidates decry unequal treatment by electoral commission
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Opposition presidential candidates are accusing the Electoral Commission (EC) and police of selectively applying the COVID-19 guidelines during campaigns for the 2021 elections.
According the six candidates and representatives who turned up for a 2021 election harmonization meeting at the EC head offices in Kampala on Monday, they say EC has condemned some candidates, political parties and their supporters, while others are left to hold processions uninterrupted.
The EC did not stop the National Resistance Movement – NRM processions that were held in Lira, Gulu and West Nile, but used excessive force to stop several opposition party rallies in western, Eastern and Northern Uganda. Among the affected are John Katumba, who was intercepted in Nakasongola, Maracha, Yumbe and Koboko districts. Another candidate Joseph Kabuleta was stopped in Masindi district, Henry Tumukunde in Kisoro, Mbarara and Rwampara districts, while Patrick Oboi Amuriat, was stopped from holding campaigns in some districts of Teso sub region.
David Lewis Rubongoya, Secretary General National Unity Platform (NUP) party who represented Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu, the NUP presidential candidate says application of double standards in enforcing the standards operating procedures (SOP’s) during campaign time has reduced the political space for the NUP camp and also denied the voters to be informed so that they make a better choice in the 2021 presidential elections.
He says Kharisma Mateeka, a NUP supporter, was shot dead in Mbale following the unbalanced application of COVID-19 guidelines are used by police and the EC as a tool of oppression, restriction and denial of the party, candidates and voters’ rights in the 2021 general elections.
Bob Barigye, FDC party president’s representative says the selective application of COVID-19 guidelines and police brutality is excessive, a candidate is delayed by police teargas, roadblocks and therefore cannot cover three districts in one day.
Alex Luganda, a representative of Independent candidate Henry Tumukunde, says the EC should apply the law equally and the voters should have been told about their obligations through education about the election process, but out there in the campaign grounds, it is not reflected.
John Katumba, an Independent candidate says the meeting with the EC was a waste of time as the issues he wanted resolved were not answered by the EC. He says all candidates should be offered equal treatment like cars, fuel, access to voters and campaigns venues.
Justice Simon Mugyenyi Byabakama, EC Chairman says there is a need to understand our responsibility in order to prevent the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic and many of the candidates flouted the SOP’s. He says therefore that there is need to observe the election guidelines issued out to candidates on nomination day.
The candidates who attended the meeting today out of a total of 11 are independents John Katumba, Willy Mayambala, while Joseph Kabuleta, Henry Tumukunde, Patrick Amuriat Oboi (Forum Democratic Change (FDC)) and Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu (National Unity Party) were represented by officials from their camps.
Candidates Yoweri Tibuhabutwa Kaguta Museveni (NRM), Linda Nancy Kalembe, Rtd Maj. Gen. Nugisha Muntu (ANT), Fred Mwesigye, Norbert Mao, (DP) did not attend the meeting.
According to the Presidential Elections Act amendment 2020 all presidential candidates must be treated in a fair and equitable way before during and after campaigns.
The candidates were given 65 days to campaign starting November 9, 2020, and elections for president and parliamentarians will be held on January 14, 2021.
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