Uganda’s representatives at the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) plan to meet President Yoweri Museveni over their push to have the 2021 elections called off to allow the country to recover from the economic setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The efforts are led by Paul Musamali and Denis Namara who for the second time this month, addressed journalists to give an update on the progress of their project.
“We are working on a formal petition to the president, we are done with the legal part, we are currently working on the economic part; giving the statistics, and by the end of this week or early next week, we shall be present our petition formally to the President such that he can bring it to the country for debate,” Musamali said.
Uganda has nine representatives to the regional parliament but what is not clear is whether the rest of the group is in agreement with the proposal being marketed by Musamali and Namara.
It is however possible that the pair’s proposal has the blessing of powers within the ruling establishment given that previous political projects such as the controversial 2017 amendment of Constitution to scrap presidential age limits were started in a similar fashion.
Through the 2017 Constitutional (Amendment) Bill No.2, Parliament had attempted to change the term of elected leaders from five to seven years but the Constitutional and Supreme Courts declared the amendment unconstitutional.
Musamali and Namara now argue that given the Covid-19 disruptions to the economy, it may be difficult for the country to finance next year’s general elections.
“We are talking about borrowing more than 50 percent to finance our budget, but the countries where we are going to borrow from have their own issues, there is no way they are going to fund activities particularly related to electioneering when they are finding other bigger issues in the world,” Namara said.
He added that their proposal is in the best interest of the country, and anchored on patriotism.
“I don’t know whether other people haven’t realized that the roadmap has already been affected. We were supposed to have concluded elections for the special interest groups. It may not be possible next month, and it may not be possible in June,” Namara argued.
“We are supposed to have nominations in August but as you know, [the disease continues to] spread in the whole world. Are you going to have an election when the whole world has shut down? Where are you going to get international observers? Are you going to have only local observers? Will you call it credible elections?” he wondered.
Namara also hit at opposition politicians that are critical of their move.
“For us we are bringing a petition, if someone says that we haven’t read the law, let them bring their counter arguments forward. Intelligence demands that if I bring forward an issue, what you can do is bring your counter arguments. After all, we have a government, and we have the opposition; the government will deal with the policy direction, and the opposition will critique and give alternative policy,” he said.