Due to the surging coronavirus cases and continued processions by presidential candidates, the Electoral Commission (EC) has indefinitely suspended physical campaign meetings in 12 Districts of Uganda including Kampala.
According to the EC chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama, the twelve categorized as COVID-19 high-risk districts include; Kampala, Wakiso, Mbarara, Kabalore, Luwero, Masaka, Tororo, Jinja, Kazo, Kalungu, Masaka and Kasese.
Byabakama said that from Boxing day, December 26, 2020, no campaign meetings will be held in the 11 cities and districts on account of rising COVID-19 infection cases and continued disregard of standard operation guidelines in the prevention of spread of coronavirus by candidates for political offices.
Byabakama stated that the decision was taken basing on advice from the Ministry of Health and any politician who violates the directive will be dealt with accordingly. According to the ministry of health, the said districts have been earmarked as having high prevalence of COVID-19 infections.
He however said candidates affected by this directive can conduct campaigns on media platforms including radios, televisions and community megaphone radios also known as bizindaalo.
In a related story, the EC announced the commencement of packing of ballot papers for presidential and parliamentary elections.
The polling kits include ballot papers, declaration results forms, polling register (National Voters’ Register for the respective polling stations, generic polling forms which include accountability of ballot papers, official report book, among other. Others are generic materials such as ink pad, indelible ink, pens and others.
The packing which commenced today in Kampala was witnessed by candidates’ agents and the media. The polling materials will later be dispatched to all parts of the country ahead of January 14th 2021 – polling day.
However, the decision by the electoral commission has not passed unchallenged. National Unity Platform presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi, took to twitter announcing his displeasure and suspicion of foul play.
“In real sense, Gen. Museveni has tried everything humanly possible to block us from holding meetings in Kampala, Masaka and Wakiso! This has been the pattern for the last 3 years. The other districts are added here to sanitise their cowardly actions!” Kyagulanyi tweeted immediately after the pronouncement by the EC was made.
Kyagulanyi had not yet conducted campaigns in some of districts designated within the EC’s red zone ahead of the presidential elections on 14th Jan. The gazetted districts also make up some of the most-populated zones in the country.