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Police denies using expired teargas to disperse presidential campaigns

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Uganda Police has denied using expired teargas to break up political campaigns of especially presidential candidates.

Speaking to reporters at the Uganda Media Centre, Edward Ochom, the Director of Operations in the Uganda Police said that before they use teargas which he said is the most effective nonlethal method of crowd control, they first inspect it.

There has been talk in the media of police using expired teargas to break up campaign rallies of opposition presidential candidates. Kyagulanyi Robert Ssentamu, the National Unity Platform presidential candidate and Patrick Amuriat Oboi of the Forum for Democratic Change have majorly been at the receiving end of this teargas.

Photos of Kyagulanyi’s car covered in smoke have made rounds on social media eliciting condemnation from rights groups.

Meanwhile, the Inspector General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola has vowed to deal decisively with candidates and their supporters who continue to defy directives of the Electoral Commission and the Ministry of Health in regard to meetings. In his message read by Ochom, Ochola said that they cannot continue to look on as candidates are exposing people to Covid-19.

Ochola said that their police commanders have been instructed not to allow any candidate to hold rallies or processions that attract more than 200 people. He reiterated that commanders who fail to take stern action against such individuals will be individually held liable for allowing such a meeting or procession to go ahead.

On Monday, candidates and their agents met the Electoral Commission and the leadership of police led by Ochom to try and get common ground in regards to the breakup of campaign meetings. These candidates and their agents accused the police of closing their eyes when it comes to violations committed by supporters or candidates of the ruling National Resistance Movement.

Lewis Rubongoya, the secretary general of the National Unity Platform wondered whether Covid-19 is selective. “When it comes to our candidate Kyagulanyi, the police breaks up our meeting but when it’s the NRM, they are not touched, so we wonder whether Covid is real when it comes to us and unreal when it comes to the NRM,” Rubongoya said.

Today marks nine days ever since the political campaigns for presidential, parliamentary and local government elections kicked off last week. Uganda is expected to go to polls on January 14, 2021 starting with presidential and parliamentary elections.

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