The elections body, the Electoral Commission has welcomed the new police unit that was recently established to prevent supporters of candidates who have made it a norm to cheer them on as they make their way to and from the talk shows on the various media houses.
The establishment of the new police unit was announced by the police spokesperson Fred Enanga last week.
Apart from stopping supporters from escorting their preferred candidates to and from media houses, the media house will be required to share with police in advance, the details of the guest they intend to host.
Presidential hopeful Robert Kyagulanyi has had his supporters escort him and gather outside various radio and TV stations in Kampala and Jinja.
Speaking to reporters at Electoral Commission headquarters in Kampala on Friday, the Commission chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama said police is an independent organ of the state mandated to perform its duties of ensuring law and order.
“I think the Uganda police Force is an independent law enforcement organ of the state which has powers to put in place certain measures and innovations they feel are relevant to address particular scenarios or situations,” said Byabakama.
“If this unit is meant specifically to address issues related to violence, we welcome it because we have to ensure that our election remains peaceful and, therefore, the Uganda Police Force as an agency tasked with maintenance of law and order, and to ensure that there is peace, is required to put in place measures as they deem necessary,” he further stated.
Byabakama, however, added that they are having engagements with the police to see how the candidates and voters can participate in the electoral process as freely as possible while observing COVID-19 preventive measures.
Byabakama also said that candidates may organize or hold regulated campaign meetings but conveners of the meetings and venue owners should ensure that the attendees comply with COVID-19 preventive measures by the Ministry of Health and notify Police.
“Conveners of meetings should notify the police authority in the respective area on the identified venues which shall be inspected for suitability in regard to compliance with the Ministry of Health guidelines,” he added.
Candidate’s agents, he said, may also conduct regulated campaign meetings on behalf of the candidate but in compliance with the COVID-19 preventive guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.
“All candidates, conveners and venue owners shall ensure that the campaign or meeting venues are provided with hand washing facilities and sanitizers.”
Byabakam,a howeve,r put it clear that concerning convening of meetings, police should be there to only ensure COVID-19 preventive measures are observed.
“Let it be understood, the factor of notifying police is not to seek their permission to hold that process but to establish whether you will be able to observe the SOPs with regard to the fight against the virus (COVID-19) in that place,” he said.