Plans Underway for Presidential Debate in Uganda Under Religious Leaders’ Auspices

The 2nd Presidential debate in 2016. The first Presidential debate in Uganda under the auspices of religious leaders is expected to be held December 12.
Credit: Public Domain

Plans are underway for the first Presidential debate in Uganda under the auspices of religious leaders ahead of the general elections scheduled for February 2021.

The first debate is expected to be held December 12 and the second one sometime in January 2021, religious leaders in the East African country have announced.

To aid in the preparations, the seven-member interreligious entity organizing the debate has received “close to” 1.5 billion shillings (US$400,000.00) from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Sharon Akidi who is the Communication Manager religious leaders’ body has been quoted as saying Thursday, October 29.

Organized by the faith leaders under their umbrella body, the Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), the debates aim at promoting tolerance, reducing partisan tensions and conflict, promoting issue-based discussions, amplifying citizens’ voices and holding the candidates accountable to their promises.

The religious leaders who include representatives from the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) are collaborating with The Elders Forum Uganda (TEFU), Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy (CCEDU), Women Situation Room (WOSIR), Inter Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) and Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET).

The debates will be hosted in line with COVID-19 guidelines and the venue will be chosen depending on the number of candidates who will be nominated on November 2 and 3, Ms. Akidi said.

She revealed that the leadership of IRCU is in talks with the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and media owners to discuss how the debates will be broadcast to the electorate.

On his part, NAB Deputy Chairman, Innocent Nahabwe says that they are holding talks with the country’s Electoral Commission (EC) to “lobby for funds” in order for broadcasters to air the Presidential Debates.

The upcoming debates will be the second set of their kind ever organized in the landlocked East African country, with IRCU and TEFU having organized the first ever presidential debate in January 2016. The initiative received the support of UNDP.

IRCU members had announced their intention to hold the 2021 presidential debates in August saying the forum “promotes issue-based discussions among candidates and citizens.”

“The candidates’ debates are a neutral dignified forum or platform where candidates or political leaders are given the opportunity to sell their agenda to the electorate and in the case of Uganda, commit themselves to a fair, peaceful and credible election,” the religious leaders had said in their August 25 statement.

Among those expected to face off in the debates include the incumbent President, 76-year-old Yoweri Museveni, popular musician and parliamentarian, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu popularly known as Bobi Wine, and only female presidential aspirant Nancy Kalembe Linda, among others.

Established in 2001, the mission of IRCU is to promote peace, reconciliation, good governance, and holistic human development through interfaith action and collaboration, advocating for the empowerment of member bodies for the common good.

The entity, which has governance as one of its key pillars through which good governance and independent, free and fair polls are fostered is among 46 civil society organizations (CSOs) accredited by Uganda’s electoral body to carry out voter education ahead of the 2021 elections.


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