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Stage set for chaotic presidential campaigns

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Now that the nomination process for all candidates intending to contest for elective positions in the forthcoming general elections is out of the way, the country is bracing for what looks to be a chaotic campaign period.

President Museveni is seeking a sixth term in office and an extension of his 34-year rule. His biggest rival is Robert ‘Bobi Wine’ Kyagulanyi, the maverick 38-year-old musician- turned-politician who is riding on a wave of support from mostly youth and the marginalised in the country.

Just over three years ago, Kyagulanyi was a nonentity in Uganda’s politics but his meteoric rise, largely due to trials and tribulations he has endured, has positioned him to take over the presidency. His National Unity Platform, which was created three months ago, has already got the backing of 21 current MPs and is expected to present the stiffest challenge to Museveni.

However, if the recent stage set for chaotic presidential campaigns political events are anything to go by, Ugandans should brace for a bloody campaign period, in spite of the Electoral Commission’s insistence (EC) that there will not be open campaigning due to restrictions to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking before the nomination, EC chairman Justice Byabakama called on the aspiring candidates to follow the rules as issued.

“We urge aspiring candidates to only be accompanied by only 10 people… desist from mobilizing supporters to be accompanied to and from the nomination venue,” Byabakama said. He also called upon the general public to follow the guidelines which have been issued by the Electoral Commission and the ministry of Health as a means of stopping the spread of coronavirus.

KYAGULANYI EFFECT

The presidential field may have more than 10 candidates but there is no doubt this is a race between Museveni and Kyagulanyi. The latter is riding on the popular wave to give new blood a chance to run the country as well as an extension of defiance first started by his political mentor Dr Kizza Besigye.

Oftentimes, Kyagulanyi’s supporters have clashed with security forces in bloody confrontations that have sometimes resulted in loss of life of his supporters. His unwavering approach guided by the red berets has also won him international admiration and in a country where the youth form the biggest demographic, Kyagulanyi is set to go for open campaigning in defiance of EC’s directive.

It is here that he is set to clash with security forces regardless of the fact that President Museveni is expected to do the same without any disruptions. Several political observers we talked to have warned that this sets up a tense, bloody campaign that may dent Uganda’s image as a democracy.

NRM SEEKS SIXTH TERM

On Monday, President Museveni was the first to be nominated. He was seconded by Gaddafi Nasur, the NRM youth League chairman and Hellen Seku, an NRM supporter from Kamuli village in Kira municipality.

Speaking to the media afterwards, Museveni emphasised the need for scientific campaigns and called upon Ugandans to be wary of the coronavirus disease which he said is now spreading vigorously.

“The best thing is for you not to get this disease but our people seem not to be understanding this. Don’t play with this disease, it kills, most of the people who have died have been healthy, they didn’t have any particular disease. Please don’t take this disease carelessly,” Museveni said.

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