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2021 Polls: Tough Road for Upcountry NUP Candidates

Between mid-September and early October, a section of politicians led their supporters and stormed different offices of the National Unity Platform party (NUP) across the country expressing dissatisfaction for being “deliberately” denied the party flag.

As they cried out, their colleagues who had been endorsed by the party were celebrating, only for this bliss to be cut short later as realities of contesting as a n NUP candidate started setting in.

Nelson Esogu, the Parliamentary aspirant of Orungo County in Amuria District was arrested shortly after his nominations. Esogu is challenging the Minister of Internal Affairs, Gen. Abubakar JJ Odongo in the forthcoming polls.

“He was arrested by security operatives, few days ago shortly after his nomination, arraigned before the Courts of Law without a lawyer, charged with unlawful possession of military wear and then remanded for two months to Kumi prison until December,” NUP said in an official statement this week.

Though he was later released on Wednesday this week, Esogu says it was not simple for him.

Paul Geraldson Mugaya, another NUP candidate who is aspiring for the Jinja East Parliamentary seat was also arrested this week and detained at Jinja Police Station on charges related to possessing military wear.

Mugaya is also crying foul after security operatives raided his home and allegedly confiscated all the posters, banners, berets, and anything related to NUP.

Magaya is said to be among the poorest NUP MP aspirants, who had even failed to  raise the Shs3m nomination fees until the party chipped with with help.

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In Mbale, the story is not different. Robinah Masibo Nadunga the NUP candidate on the Mbale City Woman MP race told journalists that her life was “in danger.”

“They on several occasion raid my home and confiscate each and everything I have which is related to NUP like posters, billboards, berets among others. My life is in danger, police is intimidating me but I will remain strong until we liberate our country,” she said.

Aisha Kabanda, the NUP assistant Secretary General and the Butambalaa District Woman MP aspirant has also borne the brunt as she was last week arrested and briefly detained on the same military attire charges.

On October 14, Joint Security forces led by the Uganda Police Force (UPF), the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) and the Local Defense Unit (LDUs) raided NUP head offices in Kampala and confiscated all the promotional materials like; T-shirts, Umbrellas, Berets and overalls while implementing the ban of wearing of Red berets by the People Power activists.

In 2019, the clash on Red Berets erupted between UPDF and the then People Power pressure group, which has since transformed into the NUP party.

UPDF threatened to prosecute people found in possession of the military accessories, insignia, decoration and uniform including the red berets that is used as the NUP symbol.

“The action was endorsed by the top organs of the army which also commended the dress committee for concluding the task assigned to it years back. The development is a milestone in the long history of UPDF,” Brig. Richard Karemire, the then UPDF spokesperson said.

The September 18, 2019, Uganda Gazette made it clear that, “members of the public are hereby informed that unless granted authority by competent military authority, it is prohibited to sell off, or expose for sale, wear or use any uniform so nearby resembling the uniform of the Defense forces and likely to deceive the public,”

Following the raid in Kamwokya, Fred Enanga the police mouthpiece said the operation was aimed at enforcing the ban on military wear by the members of the public.

He also dismissed claims by NUP Shs 23 Million had been take from the offices along with presidential nomination signatures on top of destruction of office equipment.

Joel Senyonyi the NUP Spokesperson say the party has since decided to sue individual officers involved in the raid.

Upcountry where scores of NUP contenders who have been detained for the red attire, there have also been outcry that most are not being allowed to appear on radio stations by local authorities.

In northern, Radio Stations in Lango sub-region, under their umbrella organization Lango Radio Owners Association (LROA) are said to be locking out NUP candidates from appearing on top radio programs, for fear of backlash from the political leadership.

Fred Nganda the Head of Communication at UCC however, warns that all candidates need to be given access to programs as long as they don’t incite violence.

More so, Justice Simon Byabakama warned politicians who use the media platforms to incite violence instead of speaking what is expected from them,

“Of course police will not just look at you and wave a white handkerchief for you. Politicians need to have a degree of discipline if these campaigns are to move on in good terms and concluded well,” he said

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