A ban on political campaign rallies in some parts of Uganda ahead of the Jan. 14 elections is meant to stymie President Yoweri Museveni’s rivals, according to the opposition.
The Electoral Commission’s suspension of campaign meetings in at least 12 of Uganda’s 146 districts is expected to hamper Museveni’s main challenger, pop star Bobi Wine, who’s yet to hold rallies in those areas, his spokesman, Joel Ssenyonyi, said Monday by phone from the capital, Kampala. The agency says the ban is to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Museveni, who’s ruled the East African nation for 34 years, has already toured most of the affected areas, Ssenyonyi said.
Bobi Wine, 38, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, poses an inter-generational challenge and security forces have repeatedly disrupted his rallies violently. Scores of people were killed in riots after he was briefly detained last month.
“The EC was deliberate about targeting districts which Hon. Kyagulanyi has not campaigned in yet and where there’s massive support for him,” Ssenyonyi said. “It’s ironic that they are stopping campaigns around the same time when Mr. Museveni ends his campaigns.”
The commission ordered that campaigns in the affected areas should continue virtually and threatened to altogether ban meetings by defiant candidates. The opposition alleges that authorities have denied them access to media stations nationwide.
The ruling National Resistance Movement is “not happy with suspension as they have fielded candidates at various levels in these areas,” said Paul Bukenya, the commission’s spokesman. The agency has approached the Uganda Communications Commission to prevail upon broadcasters to allow access for candidates, he said.
Museveni, 76, is vying against 10 challengers, including a former army commander and an ex-security minister.