AP Photo/Saurabh Das
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni once again looks like he will not be attending the last presidential debate ahead of the February 18 presidential elections. The debate is to be held on February 13.
“Seven candidates have confirmed their participation, and plans are under way to reach the eighth candidate,” Joshua Kitakule, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda secretary general, reported Voice of America (VOA).
“Ours is a platform given to the presidential candidates to take advantage of. It is nonpartisan; it is impartial; it’s an independent space.
“So it is not a space where we are forcing anybody to come. Any candidate that finds value, that finds benefits from it will definitely come to that debate. … We are trying to negotiate with [Museveni] so that he is able to find benefits to take advantage of this space,” Kitakule continued.
Museveni earlier this year took the decision to skip the first presidential debate and according to VOA Ugandans have voiced their disappointments and frustrations that he did not attend the earlier debate stating that it deprived them of hearing from their president who has held power for 30 years.
Museveni also skipped debates in 1996, when the country first held elections after Museveni had been power for 10 years, 2006 and 2011.
Many have asked what Museveni is hiding from by avoiding the presidential debates. However, Museveni has simply dismissed the debates as childish saying they are not worth his time.
Opposition candidates have also come out accusing Museveni’s administration of police brutality and the recruitment of volunteer police called “crime preventers”.
Maureen Kyalya, the only female presidential candidate stated that Museveni “uses force and intimidation” in order to seek re-election.
“He’s trained people he calls ‘crime preventers’, but their job is to beat everybody senseless to scare them that there’s going to be war, so they vote for him,” she continued.
Many consider that the situation in Uganda could quickly deteriorate causing wide spread violence across the country. Even with accusations of intimidation, Museveni is widely expected to win another five-year term.
Last month the United States expressed concerns over the condition of the country stating that “reports of the police using excessive force, obstruction and dispersal of opposition rallies, and intimidation and arrest of journalists have contributed to an electoral climate of fear and intimidation”.