Uganda’s opposition groups challenge new 2020/2021 general election roadmap

Asuman Basalirwa
JEEMA President General Asuman Basalirwa

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Justice Forum-JEEMA has described the reviewed Electoral Commission (EC) roadmap as unconstitutional. Asuman Basalirwa, the Justice Forum President says that the Constitution does not provide for the guidelines issued by the commission in preparation for the 2021 polls.  

The new roadmap which was released on Tuesday 16th banned all political rallies and physical interactions between candidates and supporters in the run-up to the 2021 elections. Instead, the commission advised all contenders for political offices, to utilize digital platforms as a medium of interaction during the campaign period. 

But Basalirwa says what the government is terming as a scientific election where candidates and the population communicate via media platforms has no footing in Uganda’s laws.

Basalirwa, also the head of the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD), an organisation that brings together all political parties with representation in parliament, says that the government should have consulted different stakeholders on the matter for a better option. He says the government can only extend the election after declaring a state of emergency. 

Basalirwa is concerned that going on with an election in the proposed manner does not favour the opposition and masses with limited access to media, yet running the usual election campaign could expose the population to the risks of Coronavirus Disease.

Basalirwa says that he has written to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of parliament asking that the Electoral Commission explains how it intends to implement guidelines that are unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the president of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Patrick Amuriat Oboi says that the reviewed roadmap is a clear indication of an unfair electoral process adding that the election looks already rigged. Amuriat says that the opposition has limited influence in the media in Uganda putting the ruling NRM at an advantage.

Jimmy Akena the president of the Uganda People’s Congress says that they are still studying the reviewed roadmap.

Revised Roadmap for Uganda’s 2020/2021 General Election

The commission also revised its roadmap to cover the three months within which no activity was allowed, as the country announced a lockdown, to forestall the spread of coronavirus disease. Among the affected activities was the display of the National Voter’s Register, which had started in March, shortly before the lockdown, and the nomination of candidates under special interest groups. 

According to the revised roadmap, political parties are supposed to hold the party primaries between June 22 and July 21, thereafter, there will be nominations for candidates for local government elections including the Special Interest Groups between September 7 to 17, 2020.

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The roadmap also shows that nominations for parliamentary and presidential elections shall be held between October 12 to 13 and November 2-3 respectively after which parliamentary digital campaigns will be held until January 8.

Candidates seeking electoral positions in Uganda’s 2021 elections will be required to conduct campaigns without physical contact as dictated by COVID-19 social and physical distancing, this is according to the Electoral Commission new roadmap. Is Uganda ready for radio, TV campaigns as EC bans public rallies?