Uganda Police Force has Monday warned political candidates at all levels to desist from recruiting and deploying people as poll watchers and vigilantes saying that security will be sufficient to enable the electoral process run smoothly.
The law enforcement agency said that there is an ongoing intensification of security preparedness as the country draws closer towards the forthcoming general elections.
According to police, the country is at a very crucial stage as several candidates try to roll out their campaign strategies and messages targeting different groups through various media channels to different groups.
Although Uganda has no specific threats, security agencies revealed, an increase in acts of misinformation and outright disinformation has been noticed especially online through use of propaganda videos and hostile footages on copycat violence from different countries like the Arab spring that are being shared and footage on civil disturbance as well as several conspiracy theories from enemies of the state.
Addressing the press in Kampala, Police spokesperson CP Fred Enanga revealed that police has got information about mobilization of local poll watchers by different political camps. He said that there are different groups that have come up with local poll watchers claiming that they are the ones that are going to protect their vote.
“Although this is a good initiative of promoting vigilance, in most cases, we noticed that some of these poll watchers tend not to abide by the electoral laws and guidelines and end up intimidating rival camps instead of promoting people’s rights to vote. Therefore, we are going ensure that all activities on the polling day and centers are not disrupted but they should look for ways and means of working within the electoral laws,” Enanga said.
Adding: “Our priority as the joint security agencies is to ensure that there is no distractions at the polling centers, therefore, those that are planning on harassing voters on polling day as a strategy especially elderly persons, women and new young voters will definitely face consequences.”
In some of the footage that have been recovered, police said, it has been discovered that there are people warning elderly persons not to go to the polling centers and others are intimidating women.
Security officials further stated that they are continuing to review and strengthen security infrastructure at all levels. Deployment shall be multi layered from polling centers to tallying centers and sufficient manpower deployment targeting the parishes, sub counties and county levels and also have mobile squads on foot and motorized response teams on motorcycles and vehicles.
Flying squads have also been deployed in different regions that have been given different tasks and quick reaction teams on standby tactically deployed for safe up keep of the election.
Although the presence of security at polling centers is not allowed, Patrol routes have been designated across polling areas to guard against acts of impunity and criminality.