Retired judge Justice James Ogoola Munange has confirmed that the much-anticipated 2016 Presidential debate will be held on Friday as scheduled.
Addressing a press conference at the Inter Religious Council (IRC) headquarters in Kampala earlier today, Ogoola said the debate will not be cancelled due to the absence of some candidates.
“We are on for Friday; we are like a plane, we will take off with whatever passengers on board,” Justice Ogoola said, adding that “as far as we are concerned no candidate has told us of withdraw from the debate.”
He added that all participants will be availed with the research findings that the organisers, the IRC, had invited delegates from countries that have held debates before to help and advise.
“All candidates will receive surprise questions and the people of Uganda will know how their candidates react to surprise,” Ogoola said.
His remarks come at a time when most Ugandans speculated that the presidential debate will not be held. Last week two of the front runners, National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate Yoweri Museveni and Forum Democratic Change (FDC) flag bearer Dr Warren Kizza Besigye pulled out of the debate claiming they did not have time.
Several prominent Ugandans have weighed in on the matter with FDC flag bearer’s wife Winnie Byanyima and former Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) boss Dr Maggie Kigozi, rooting for the debate to take place even without the two candidates.
In a related development Justin Kasule Lumumba, the Secretary General of the ruling NRM, has said that the party candidate Yoweri Museveni will not participate in the debate because of his busy campaign schedule.
“Let them change or accept the person we send to articulate our party interests,” Ms Lumumba was quoted as saying early today.
There are 8 candidates taking part in the February 18, 2016 elections, and the remaining six have confirmed participation in the debate.