Uganda proposes Bill that may postpone the 2021 election.

The novel coronavirus disrupted all spheres of life and directly threatens democracy. Most states are unable to make qualified decisions on postponement (or lack thereof) of elections due to a lack of legal precedent. As such, most will have to now go to law and factor in similar crises that may occur. In that light, the Ugandan government is proposing a bill that will cover arising legal questions.

No sweeping responses can be used to address the issue of holding elections under the pandemic or postponing. Malawi, South Korea and Croatia have held elections with varying experiences.

The primary goal of saving lives should also be matched with the need for maintaining democratic principles and rites such as elections. In the new Ugandan bill, a state of emergency will cover pandemics such as the present one and allow for postponement of polls. Furthermore, those holding office will continue to do so until elections can be held.

Such a legal instrument will constitutionally allow the 2021 election to be postponed. The campaign period has been affected and there are no signs that in 2021 the virus would have passed. The struggle now is for the legislators pushing for this amendment to convince the rest of the Parly floor.

It is a sincere hope that the new bill will cover the right questions and also cascade to the region. Countries such as Zimbabwe where Parly recalls have created will also need to invest in such an effort to ensure that citizens do not go unrepresented. As good governance demands, ‘nothing for the people without the people’.

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