Gov't breaks own COVID SOPs, 4,000 invited for Museveni swearing in ceremony

President Museveni

President Museveni

Government through a 'special waiver' will allow over 4,000 people including 21 heads of state to attend President Yoweri Museveni's 6th swearing-in ceremony on May 12. The gathering of 4,042 people at the same function, is a break away from the government's own 200-people maximum standard operating procedure (SOPs) instituted by Museveni himself for all public gatherings in a bid to combat the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

Speaking at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala, Esther Mbayo, the minister in charge of the Presidency said that since the swearing-in ceremony is a special occasion that occurs only once every five years, they sought a waiver from the ministry of Health and the attorney general to have more people.

She says that they will still observe other SOPs such as social distancing and hand washing. Mbayo also says that all those who will attend the function will be required to take a Covid-19 test before they are allowed access to the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds where the swearing-in will take place.

"We’re requesting for a special waiver for a special day that comes once in five years. And when we request for a waiver, we’re not amending any laws. A waiver is a one-off, one day and this is change of government for God’s sake where we have to make sure that we put everything in place. And the waiver, is a social waiver, it's only one day and there is no way the law can be amended right now and we have not amended any law, we’re continuing with the 200." Mbayo said. 

Asked whether even heads of state will be tested before they are allowed in the country, Mbayo said only their entourage will be tested. Mbayo also refused to disclose the names of the heads of state who have confirmed attendance. She said however that invitation had been extended to 42 heads of state both from Africa and the rest of the world. 

Also invited to attend the ceremony from within the country include; all former presidential candidates, ministers and ministers of state, all MPs-elect, members of the National Resistance Movement central executive committee, some religious and cultural leaders, 17 delegates from each district, members of the East African Legislative Assembly and some members of the business community.  

President Museveni was declared by the Electoral Commission as the winner of the January 14 elections having defeated 10 other candidates with 58 per cent of all valid votes cast. If he completes his term in 2026, Museveni will have collectively ruled Uganda for 40 years.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd