Uganda: 2021 Polls - New Roadmap Challenged in High Court

The newly revised roadmap for 2021 General Election that authorised virtual campaigning has been challenged in the High Court for violating various fundamental constitutional rights and freedom.

In their lawsuit filed before the High Court yesterday, two petitioners, Mr Fred Mayanja and Mr John Baptist Masaazi, sued the Electoral Commission (EC) seeking a permanent injunction that restrains the EC from organising the polls under the said roadmap.

The petitioners claim the roadmap violates their fundamental human rights of freedom.

They also claim that following the publication of the June 16 letter, the EC intimated its intentions of organising the General Election through virtual campaigns where the respective candidates will not be allowed to interface with voters but rather use media platforms.

"This kind of election will automatically require all the electorates to have radio and television sets in order to follow their respective candidates and the entire election process. However, we have indigent groups of people including the plaintiff (EC), who can hardly afford a meal and the ability to get the other basic essentials of life," the petitioners state.

"It would clearly be a move to marginalise such people and indirectly disentrancing them if it remains that they have to buy smart phones, radios and television sets if they are to get information concerning the forthcoming elections because they will not afford those gadgets," they added. The petitioners state that virtual campaigns require electricity to enable different gadgets operate yet there are areas where electricity does not reach.

According to the court documents, the petitioners have as a result lost confidence in the freeness, fairness and transparency of the election process as it is already mired with gross violation of fundamental Human rights.

The petitioners also state that in a June 22 letter to the EC, they demanded the roadmap be halted. However, their efforts went unanswered.

They also recommended that if the roadmap was developed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the EC should make consultations with other countries like Burundi and Malawi who have already held elections without restricting themselves to virtual campaigns.

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