By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Electoral Commission has strongly warned candidates who are flaunting covid-19 guidelines as guided by the Ministry of Health and Electoral Commission as per revised road map of 2021 General Elections that they risk being kicked out of the race.
According to Electoral Commission, Candidates’ campaign meetings for Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Council elections commenced on Monday 9th November 2021, across the country.
Electoral Commission Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama has revealed that matters of elections are governed by the law which provides for circumstances under which a candidate can be disqualified, adding that EC is still examining these in regards to non-compliance of candidates during the campaigns.
Byabakama further noted that during nominations some candidates raised objection on taking the COVID-19 test but EC stood its ground.
“At the end of the exercise, three people that were meant to accompany presidential aspirants to the nomination grounds tested positive for COVID-19,” he disclosed.
The Commission has, however, noted with concern that some candidates, including Presidential candidates, are holding their campaigns in a manner that violates the guidelines for conduct of scientific campaign meetings and these risk to be disqualified.
”Some candidates are mobilizing their supporters to gather at campaign venues in large numbers. It is important to note that The Public Health (Control of COVID-19) (Amendment No.3) Rules, 2020, issued on 9th November 2020, provides that gatherings for purposes of political meetings should not exceed two hundred (200) persons, ” Byabakama warned.
”Some candidates are conducting processions along public roads, through towns and trading centres, and are also holding rallies in non-designated venues as per the harmonised campaign programme. This violates the Commission’s guidelines that the campaigns should be conducted in observance of Standard Operating Procedures (social distancing, hand washing, and wearing of masks) and in designated places” he said.
Some candidates are making impromptu stopovers in trading centres, attracting people and addressing public gatherings along busy highways from their car rooftops.
”These spontaneous public addresses are a violation of the Commission’s guidelines which provides for the conduct of campaign meetings only in the approved venues and in accordance with the harmonised campaign programme, which clearly indicates the dates, time and venues for such meetings ” he noted.
The Commission has also noted that some candidates and their supporters are not wearing face masks during public meetings, which puts all participants, including the candidates, at the risk of contracting COVID-19.
”The Commission reiterates that processions and public/mass rallies remain banned in accordance with the measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, ” he added.
The Commission further warns all candidates contesting for various elective positions under the general elections 2021, and all other stakeholders in the electoral process to conduct themselves in accordance with the guidelines for the campaigns and strictly observe the measures issued by the Commission. Non-compliant with the guidelines issued for the campaign period will necessitate intervention by law enforcing agencies, among other measures.