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D-DAY: Make or break in NRM Primaries



Army personnel disembarking from the truck to beef up security in Sembabule ahead of NRM polls. Courtesy photo

Sembabule, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Spokesman Ofwono Opondo has called for calm as fears of violence rose on the eve of Friday’s National Resistance Movement NRM party primaries.

“My appeal to NRM members is that shame the naysayers by conducting free and fair elections,” he said hours to the polls, as reports of violence, threats and disputes dominated the run up to the process to pick flag bearers ahead of the 2021 elections.

The NRM party will today hold nationwide party primaries to choose candidates for district and woman Parliamentary seats, with at least 1,200 already lined up to contest.

Voting is by lining up at every village, which is a polling station. Voting will be for the woman and constituency MP.

With the tension building, President Yoweri Museveni who is the party chairman, added a twist to the contest, by allowing NRM members with party cards but who are not on the register to vote.

He also directed that 18-year-olds who have cards, and have been confirmed as members by village NRM committees, be allowed to vote.

“I find no problem that the President has intervened in the NRM Primaries except that he has done it too late,” Ofwono Opondo admitted on the NBS Frontline Show Thursday.

Sembabule a hotspot

How Museveni’s decision will play out is hard to tell, but has so far done little to cool down the tensions.

In Sembabule district, there is heavy deployment of police and the army ahead of the National Resistance Movement – NRM party primaries.

Armed security personnel are already patrolling the different areas of Sembabule to avert any cases of violence. The Deputy Inspector General of Police Sabiiti Muzeeyi has also camped in the area ahead of the polls.

Muhammad Nsubuga, the greater Masaka Regional Police Spokesperson says upon identifying Sembabule as a political hotspot, the regional security found it necessary for special deployment for purposes of maintaining order.

Nsubuga says that they have also called on the support of the army to back up police to secure the entire district during the elections.

He also says they have arrested six people in connection with political violence that has occurred in the area. Notably, Sembabule district has recently registered several incidents of political violence characterized by supporters of the various political camps fighting their rivals.

On Monday, the Sembabule Woman Member of Parliament Anifa Kawooya who is now contesting for the Mawogola West Constituency seat was reportedly assaulted in a scuffle by supporters of her political rival and incumbent MP Joseph Ssekabiito who accused her of tampering with the party registers.

The heavy security deployment comes hours after the National Resistance Movement- NRM party Electoral Commission cancelled the polls in Mawogola County West over campaign violence.

Bundibugyo enforces curfew

Security enforces the curfew ahead of NRM polls. File Photo

Bundibugyo district security committee has imposed a night curfew in the district to curb threats of violence ahead of the NRM party primaries. The curfew came into effect today.

The Deputy RDC Umar Muhanguzi issued the directive calling on the local community to be home by 7 pm or else they will face arrest.

Muhanguzi says that the decision follows reports that some people were threatening to carry out violent attacks against opponents and their supporters.

He added that security in the district has been beefed up to contain any forms of violence during the election exercise.

In 2016, at least 12 people were killed and over 10 houses set ablaze in post-election clashes in the district.

The violent clashes were sparked off by the declaration of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate Ronald Mutegeki as the winner of a hotly-contested LCV chairman’s race between him and independent candidate and the then incumbent Jolly Tibamanya.

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