Uganda’s Electoral Commission plans to meet representatives of all eight presidential candidates who have qualified to participate in next year’s general election in the capital, Kampala on Thursday.
The electoral body says it wants to harmonize their upcoming campaigns in order to reduce or avoid the tension and possible violence that might arise if two or more parties campaigned in the same area at the same time.
Eight approved candidates
The electoral commission says the candidates that have met all of its qualification criteria include incumbent President Yoweri Museveni of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), former Prime Minister Patrick Amama Mbabazi and main opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye, of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
This comes after the electoral commission officially concluded a two-day nomination process on Wednesday for parties to select their candidates to compete in next year’s presidential, parliamentary and local elections.
Jotham Taremwa, spokesman for the electoral commission, says official campaigning for next year’s vote will begin on November 9.
“We had a successful two-day nomination exercise… with eight successfully nominated candidates... It was a success and we are very happy about that,” said Taremwa.
“We do not want candidates to campaign in the same place at the same time because that would cause the clash of supporters, and it would not be good for our electoral process. We want to make sure that there is harmony, throughout the campaign period. And when one is in this area, the other one is in a different area. That way we are able to control any sources of violence during the campaign period,” he added.
Opposition groups have accused the electoral commission of bias and doing the bidding of President Museveni and his ruling NRM. This, after the electoral commission recently warned opposition leaders to desist from consulting with their supporters. The electoral body says the parties were violating the electoral code by meeting with their supporters, which it says constitutes campaigning.
Electoral commission spokesman Taremwa says the laws are clear about when campaigning should begin ahead of elections.
“All along, our wish was why don’t you wait until we conduct the nomination and then you can officially begin your campaign," he said. "So, it is not correct that as the electoral commission we are taking sides and denying the opposition. Campaigns were not allowed because we had not conducted any nomination.”
“We always wanted them to stick to the law which requires them to limit their activities to consultations, Taremwa continued. "But you know as politicians they would want to go and campaign and you campaign when you have not been nominated as a candidate? You campaign as who? Because candidates are the ones who are allowed to campaign so that was not a correct complaint.”
Taremwa says the electoral commission will soon conclude the compilation of a new voters list that would be used for next year’s poll.