Uganda: Electoral Commission Backs Police, Call for Impartiality

Kampala — The Electoral Commission (EC) yesterday said the police were acting within their mandate to control candidates from violating the campaign guidelines.

However, the electoral body warned that their actions should be impartial across parties.

"It is the duty of Uganda police to ensure law and order during the electoral process in enforcing guidelines we issued as Electoral Commission. This is why there has been interception of groups, candidates that have flouted the rules," Mr Paul Bukenya, the EC spokesperson, said.

"Law enforcement is invested in the Uganda Police Force and they should exercise that impartially because there is one common enemy here. It is not only one party or the other. The guidelines talk about regulated meetings not mass public rallies. Rallies remain banned," he added.

National Unity Platform presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, and Forum for Democratic Change Patrick Oboi Amuriat were on Wednesday arrested in Luuka and Gulu, respectively where they had been scheduled to campaign.

Mr Amuriat was later released but Bobi Wine is still under custody. The arrests prompted riots in parts of the country with police reporting 16 deaths as of yesterday and a number of causalities.

Mr Bukenya asked the aggrieved candidates to officially write to them.

"We have called candidates who have grievances to share them so that we pursue them. We hear that some radio stations were switched off. EC does not monitor radio stations. We don't have that monitoring capacity," he said.

Open to complaints

"Where you have observed any issue, bring it officially and the commission will take it up with Uganda Communications Commission, Uganda Media Owners and Uganda Association of Broadcasters because we already entered into an agreement at the beginning that should you not permit someone to use airwaves, then you are telling them to go and organise public mass rallies which is against the guidelines," Mr Bukenya said.

On candidates who have already suspended their campaign schedules demanding the release of those incarcerated, Mr Bukenya warned that they will not extend the poll dates.

In his statement yesterday, Justice Byabakama warned candidates against violating the guidelines.

"The commission warns all candidates that continued violation of the guidelines will attract cancellation of the campaign programme," he said.

To control the spread of coronavirus, the EC banned campaign rallies and processions and limited campaign meetings to 200 people.

"Security agents have a role to play in elections. Security should follow the law and apply it in accordance with the guidelines and impartially because we have one common enemy which is Covid-19. And we are putting it to them (police). That is the engagement we are doing right now," Mr Bukenya said.

pahimbisibwe@ug.nationmedia.com

Source: The Monitor

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