NRM supporters in Arua cheering as Museveni convoy drives through
76-year-old presidential candidate, also the incumbent president, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has asked the electorate in Arua, northern Uganda to vote leaders with workable policies and not simply because they are young.
Museveni, who shot his way to power in 1986 and is the oldest candidate in next year's race, is seeking for a 5th term in office. He responded to those attacked his advanced age and his mental and physical capabilities to continue leading the country, saying age doesn't matter so long as the issues of the people are addressed by the leader in power.
Museveni is facing fierce competition from 38-year-old Robert Kyagulanyi, who entered the political arena less than 4 years ago after winning the Kyadondo East MP by-election. Kyagulanyi has themed his campaigns on youth empowerment while Museveni's has been themed on security the citizens' future.
Meanwhile, Hundreds of ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) supporters in Arua, were on Thursday left frustrated after they were barred from escorting in a procession Museveni to Muni University.
Museveni started his campaigns in Arua at Muni University campus, however, only those who tested negative for Covid-19 and had result certificates were allowed to attend the campaign meeting.
Several NRM supporters who had been planning to join Museveni’s convoy from Arua city to Muni University and back from State Lodge at Anyafio were left angry after they were told by security that this would not be permitted.
Boda bodas riders dressed in yellow T-shirts were ordered to stop at Total fuel station as Museveni sped off to Muni University.
Some of the NRM die-hards threatened to strike and protest along the roadside when the president returned to State Lodge from Muni where he was addressing ministers and NRM flag bearers in Arua and other districts in West Nile.
Toto Habiba, an elderly woman and a member of Arua NRM Elders’ Forum said those who have been blocked should not complain but continue supporting Museveni, who she says has done tremendous developments in West Nile.
Unlike other presidential candidates, Museveni said his rallies will be controlled and limited to the few flag bearers and ministers in the respective areas - in respect of the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by the ministry of Health. He further warned opposition candidates that government is going to come hard on them because coronavirus is still in the country killing people, and the people must be protected at all costs.
All the selected attendees of Museveni's mini rallies are obliged to wear face masks and maintain social distancing - a stark contrast to opposition rallies that continue to attract masses. But similar to other candidates, his supporters also continue to clog highways with little regard to SOPs although the president always keeps inside his car although the usual security protocols and restrictions have been relaxed.
The state minister for Internal Affairs Kania Mario Obiga warned opposition presidential candidates that there's still a government in power that will continue to enforce SOPs.
Since the official kickoff of the presidential and parliamentary campaigns this week, some opposition candidates including Forum for Democratic Change's Patrick Oboi Amuriat, National Unity Platform's (NUP) Robert Kyagulanyi and Henry Tumukunde's have been blocked from holding rallies in some districts and venues, and sometimes their supporters have been teargassed.