It is just hours now to the long awaited presidential debate organized by the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda.
The Council Secretary General Joshua Kitakule insists that they are still expecting all the 8 presidential candidates.
This is despite claims by the NRM party that it had officially sent notification to the council about its candidate’s inability to participate in the debate.
Kitakule says attendance of the debate to be held at the Serena Conference Center will only be by invitation and they expect over 1000 people.
The council has organized two debates with the first one scheduled for today, while the second one will be held on 10th February 2016.
Today’s debate will focus on the economy, good governance, rule of law and social welfare.
While for the second one emphasis will be on peace and security, foreign relations, East African integration, the Great Lakes region and terrorism.
The candidates who are expected to participate in the debate are Benon Biraaro, Dr. Abed Bwanika, Maureen Kyalya, Joseph Mabirizi, Prof. Venansious Baryamureba and Dr. Kiiza Besigye, while the stand of Yoweri Museveni remains in balance.
Meanwhile, the NRM party has dismissed claims that their presidential candidate has skipped today’s presidential debate due to fear.
The party’s deputy spokesperson Ofwono Opondo says president Museveni is not a coward as some members of the opposition are alleging, further advising them to focus on issues and what they intend to do for Ugandans.
Relatedly, Civil Society Organizations are calling on all presidential candidates to ensure they attend the debate in person.
The coordinator of the Citizens Election Observers Network Uganda Martin Mwondah argues that failure by any candidate to attend the debate will be disrespectful to Ugandans.
He adds that the debate provides a platform for the candidates to share how they intend to contribute to free and fair elections come February 18th 2o16.
Story By Dianah Wanyana