Uganda gears up for first ever general election presidential debate

President Yoweri Museveni will not show up for the debate,

President Yoweri Museveni will not show up for the debate,

Friday, January 15th, 2015, will go down in the history books as the day Uganda held its first ever Presidential debate as seven of the eight candidates vying for the country’s top most office go head to head to discuss issues that voters should base on to vote them into office.

The debate under the theme: “Working Together for Peaceful and Violence-Free 2016 Elections” will be held at the Serena Conference Centre under the auspices of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda, The Elders’ Forum of Uganda (TEFU) and the National Consultative Forum (NCF).

Presidential debates were born out of a well publicized Illinois Senatorial debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in 1858 in the United States.

According to the organizers of the Uganda Presidential debate, it will be a joint platform for all Presidential candidates to share their vision and Manifestos to the people of Uganda. “It aims at providing a balanced space for all presidential candidates to sell their agenda to all Ugandans and to make a commitment to peaceful and violence-free 2016 general elections. The main objective of the debate is to demonstrate the collaborative efforts for an equal, tolerant, and harmonious society necessary for a peaceful elections in Uganda,” a statement from the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda said.

However the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni has skipped the debate citing a busy campaign schedule which had already been planned and had proposed to delegate a representative, a move that was rejected by the organizers of the debate.

“We want Presidential candidates not their representatives to tell the public what they plan to do if elected into office, we don’t want ghost presidential candidates. Candidates who can’t attend for whatever reason should not send representatives because we will not accept this,” Justice James Ogoola Chairperson, Organizing Committee of the Presidential Debate-2016 told this website
The debate which will be broadcast live on NTV, will also provide the public with a platform to engage their leaders on their political manifestos and vision for Uganda, thereby creating accountability on leadership as well as the public.

The debate is expected to create a more enlightened electorate that focuses on key national issues ahead of the February 18th Polls.

The four hour debate will be moderated by two prominent Ugandan media personalities Alan Kasujja and Nancy Kacungira currently working with BBC and KTN, Kenya, respectively. The two moderators will be assisted by a team of research experts who will ensure quality control on the content.

The debate is themed on the economy, social service delivery, governance, peace and security. The organizers are expected to organize a second debate on February 10, 2016, eight days to the polls focusing on trade and investment, foreign policy, regional integration, currency and foreign reserves, population and demographic issues.

Presidential Candidates in the debate include Dr Col Kizza Besigye of FDC, former Premier John Patrick Amama Mbabazi of TDA, Dr Abed Bwanika of People’s Development Party, Independents Professor Venacious Baryamureeba, Benon Biraro, Joseph Mabirizi and the only woman Maureen Kyalya.