Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The National Unity Platform –NUP presidential candidate, Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine and his Forum for Democratic Change –FDC counterpart, Patrick Oboi Amuriat top the list of electoral related crimes over the last two months, according to records from the Criminal Investigations Directorate- CID.
Last week, a detective at the CID headquarters at Kibuli revealed that they had registered 277 political and electoral offences from the nomination of parliamentary candidates in mid-October and January 8, 2021. Both Kyagulanyi and his NUP members reportedly have 90 cases of electoral violence, violations of the Standard Operating Procedures –SOPs intended to prevent the spread of Covid19 and inciting violence via social media platforms.
“Our records can change anytime because we believe that more cases are still at regions and division levels and have been submitted to headquarters. But the cases we already have indicated NUP members and Kyagulanyi himself as well Amuriat top the list of all the political offences,” source said. Charles Twine, the CID Spokesperson told Uganda Radio Network –URN that indeed that Kyagulanyi and Amuriat dominate the electoral related offences registered by the CID.
Without giving figures, Twine said Kyagulanyi and his crew have the highest number of cases related to violence during their campaign trail. They include among others threatening violence, inciting violence using social media channels and violation of SOPs. Amuriat tops the list on violation traffic regulation and has over 20 offences. Nevertheless, Twine said the campaign period has generally been peaceful compared to previous campaigns. CID attributes the less number of cases to COVID-19 restrictions which stopped candidates from holding massive rallies.
Kyagulanyi and Amuriat have been the most teargassed presidential candidates since the campaign started on November 9, 2020. Kyagulanyi was arrested on November 18 from his campaign venue in Luuka district and was charged with doing an act likely to spread an infectious disease under Section 171 of the Penal Code Act.
Amuriat was arrested in among other places Mbarara and Mpigi districts where he was charged with assaulting policemen and violating traffic rules respectively. Amuriat was also arrested in Kampala for allegedly interfering with traffic flow. URN data on electoral related violence compiled since the presidential nominations on November 9, shows that 200 chaotic scenes have been recorded where Kampala, Jinja and Lira top the list of districts with the most violent incidents.
Kampala and Jinja according to the data registered nine violent scenes each while November 18 when Kyagulanyi was arrested recorded the highest number of chaotic scenes with 25. The chaotic scenes spread all over the country whereby military and police responded by killing 54 people. Twine also cites Kampala and major towns along Jinja –Mbale route as places that recorded the most chaotic scenes. This, CID attributes to excitement whenever politicians were going through such towns to their campaign destinations.
Out of 200 violent incidents recorded by URN, teargas was used in 94 incidents. 17 incidents led to arrests of either the presidential candidate or their crew members. Twine said apart from the November 18 protests where more than 1000 people were arrested, more people have been apprehended for traffic related offences, inciting violence via social media platforms and defying COVID-19 SOPs.
Political analyst and the former Buganda Kingdom premier, Dan Muliika, said trouble started with restricting campaign rallies to only 200 people. The Electoral Commission Chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama, with guidance from Ministry of Health restricted campaign rallies to only 200 people in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Muliika said there was no way a presidential candidate could reach out to the more than 40 million people in Uganda by meeting 200 people. To him, that was not applicable and EC could have sat with politicians and agreed on how to hold campaigns under the COVID-19 pandemic.
Muliika adds that all the confrontations, violent and chaotic scenes could have been avoided had EC engaged politicians on how to handle elections during COVID-19. Besides, Muliika thinks police should have acted professionally by summoning all politicians they thought were violating Electoral rules other than using force, teargas and live bullets.