Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Electoral Commission – EC has today written a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martin Okoth Ochola demanding to know why the force he leads has continuously interrupted campaign meetings of opposition presidential candidates.
In a letter dated November 16th, Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi, the chairperson of the Electoral Commission says that he has received several complaints from the candidates expressing dissatisfaction over the continuous interruption of their meetings by the police.
Byabakama’s letter says that the action by the police have caused unnecessary confrontations which have portrayed the campaigns in a negative way. “As you are aware after the nomination exercise, presidential candidates harmonized their respective campaign programs covering the entire country…Please note that conducting campaigns as per the harmonized program is a recognized activity under the Presidential Elections Act and the Roadmap of the 2021 general elections,” Byabakama’s letter reads in part.
It adds that presidential candidates have a right to move and access the designated venues for as long as they comply with the Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Electoral Commission that limits to 200, the number of people to attend a political meeting.
For slightly over two weeks that presidential candidates have been campaigning, they have been met with the brunt force of the police force and other security forces. Wherever candidates especially Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu of the National Unity Platform (NUP) and Patrick Amuriat Oboi of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) have gone, they have been teargassed, or even arrested after clashing with the police especially in regards to campaign venues.
Speaking to reporters today at the Commission’s headquarters at Jinja Road, Byabakama assured Ugandans that although they have received criticism, they are still very much in charge of the electoral process.
Ugandans are expected to go to polls to elect their president and Members of Parliament on January 14th, 2021. President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who is the incumbent is tussling it out with 10 other candidates.