EC chairperson Simon Byabakama

The Uganda Electoral Commission has warned all candidates in the 2021 general elections who are not adhering to the Covid-19 guidelines during campaigns.

In a statement from the electoral body on Wednesday, it says it has noted with concern that some candidates, including Presidential candidates, are holding their campaigns in a manner that violates the guidelines for conduct of campaign meetings.

“The Electoral Commission wishes to appreciate candidates who have organised and conducted public meetings in accordance with the Guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for conducting campaigns in a COVID-19 environment. 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 Campaign Meetings,” reads part of the statement.

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Campaigns for presidential, parliamentary and local government council candidates commenced on November 9th across the country. But as the campaigns carry on, there has been relaxation of the guidelines by candidates like attracting large numbers to the rallies yet the rule says they should not exceed 200 people.

“Some candidates are mobilizing their supporters to gather at campaign venues in large numbers. The Public Health (Control of COVID-19) (Amendment No.3) Rules, 2020, issued on 9th November 2020, provides gatherings for purposes of political meetings should not exceed 200 persons,” the statement adds.

“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.”

“We warn 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 measures issued by the Commission.”

“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.”

“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.”

“Non-compliance with the Guidelines issued for the campaign period will necessitate intervention by law enforcing agencies, among other measures.”

Campaigns for MPs and presidential candidates are set to carry on up to January 12th, 2021 and voting will be on January 14th.

As at 10th November 2020, the cumulative COVID-19 infection cases in Uganda stood at 14,704 with 133 deaths so far registered in the country.