Uganda: Bishop Kaggwa Asks Govt to Postpone 2021 Elections Over Coronavirus

The Bishop Emeritus of Masaka Diocese John Baptist Kaggwa has advised government to consider postponing the 2021 general elections if aspiring candidates cannot hold open air campaigns under the current coronavirus situation.

On June 16, the Electoral Commission chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama, unveiled a new roadmap for the 2021 general elections and announced the proposal for virtual campaigns, banning mass rallies and restricted canvassing of votes to media platforms as a measure to adhere to Covid-19 guidelines of social distancing.

Under the new plan, political parties are required to devise other means of conducting internal elections, to comply with the social distancing requirement.

The revised roadmap, which will last six months, will end with the polling period for the general elections for the parliamentary and presidential positions between January 10 and February 8 next year.

But Bishop Kaggwa says the released roadmap favours incumbents and locks out new entrants in the political race at different levels.

"How will I vote without seeing my candidate? My opinion is that if we cannot have the usual campaigns let government extend the elections for two years so that people can freely choose their new leaders without the current restrictions," he said.

The prelate made the remarks during a special mass to celebrate 25 years since he was ordained bishop. The function happened on Wednesday at Kitovu Cathedral.

He asked MPs who attended the function like Matthias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality), Babirye Kabanda (Masaka District Woman MP), Ssewungu Joseph Gonzaga (Kalungu West), Florence Namayanja (Bukoto East) and Veronica Nanyondo (Bukomansimbi District Woman MP ) to spearhead the debate in House to extend the general elections.

Bishop Kaggwa also asked government to allow traders operating in arcades to reopen their shops saying in Uganda's setting, malls and arcades are the same.

"Both [arcades and malls] are the same; the only different is that Americans call them malls and British call them arcades," he said.

Mityana Diocese Bishop and chairperson Uganda Episcopal Conference Joseph Anthony Zziwa lauded Bishop Kaggwa for always speaking his mind on issues affecting the community and initiating projects that have turned around the diocese.

"There is a lot we have learnt from Bishop Kaggwa; he always speaks his mind and started many projects that have changed the lives of our people in this diocese," he said.

Bishop Kaggwa who served the diocese for 24 years, retired last year and was replaced by Bishop Serverus Jjumba.

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