President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni has told Ugandans next year’s local council, parliamentary and presidential elections will not be postponed despite increasing Covid19 cases and deaths.
As of November 21, Uganda’s Covid19 death toll stood at 168, the cumulative number of cases at 17,667, and recoveries at 8,611.
With cases increasing, and the healthcare system overwhelmed, daily deaths are expected to rise.
Addressing ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) leaders in the Teso sub-region on November 21, Museveni explained that he had rejected health experts’ advice to postpone the 2021 elections over Covid19.
But the 76-year-old head-of-state told his advisors life had to go on with or without the deadly viral respiratory disease.
He insisted people had to be disciplined in order to protect themselves from Covid19.
“Some people were saying we postpone elections because of #Covid19 but we cannot postpone life. Once a problem comes, we have to find a way of dealing with it,” Museveni noted.
“Just like we have dealt with AIDS, Ebola, we can deal with Corona as long as people are not reckless and follow the SOPs.”
Although Museveni had months ago argued it would be ‘madness’ to hold elections until a Covid19 vaccine had been rolled out, he made a u-turn and pushed for polls even when there was no cure or vaccine for the disease.
His critics, such as his former personal physician and fiercest presidential Challenger Dr Kizza Besigye, claimed Museveni didn’t want to cede his power to the speaker of Parliament in case elections were deferred over the virus.
Relatedly, November 18 and 19 protests over the arrest of National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, in which over 30 people were killed, prompted some to urge government to postpone the January 14 elections.
But Museveni has insisted it is possible to hold peaceful polls and preserve lives provided political players and voters adhere of Covid19 prevention guidelines as well as Electoral Commission (EC) directives to avoid confrontation with security agencies.
But some opposition political leaders have severally accused security agencies of selectively enforcing coronavirus prevention guidelines and the EC of failure to call out police for taking sides.