Uganda’s presidential elections scheduled for early next year may be called off, after the country’s long-serving leader Yoweri Museveni said it would be foolhardy for the polls to take place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“To have elections when the virus is still there… It will be madness,” the 75-year-old told local NBS Television in an interview aired late on Monday, Reuters reports.
Uganda has so far registered 122 confirmed coronavirus cases with 55 recoveries and zero death. According to the Daily Monitor, the number includes new cases confirmed among some 2,296 that were tested on Monday at the Uganda Virus Research Institute.
A spokesperson for the electoral commission shares in the president’s worries, about going ahead with the presidential elections as scheduled. Jonathan Taremwa warned the outbreak could affect the electoral process.
“For now, it’s life let’s first rally behind the president and government in fighting the spread of COVID-19. At an appropriate time, the commission will inform the country of the electoral programme,” Taremwa was quoted as saying by a CGTN Africa report.
Museveni last year received the endorsement of the country’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) as its candidate for the 2021 elections.
It came after parliament approved legislation in 2017 to repeal the presidential age limit of 75 years old. The repeal was upheld in July 2018 by Uganda’s Constitutional Court, VOA reported, making it the second time the NRM-dominated parliament changed the constitution to allow President Museveni to extend his time in office.
Museveni has been in power since 1986 as the leader of a rebel army and his long grip onto power has been marked by numerous accusations of corruption, human rights violations, and poor social services.
Museveni’s likely challenger is popular singer-turned-politician Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi.