FDC Presidential candidate Patrick Oboi Amuriat has warmed his party could consider adopting ‘other means’ to counter increasing acts of state interference in their campaigns.
His remarks came on the back of the disruption of a campaign meeting scheduled at Lira Golf Course on Saturday, November 15.
Speaking to the press late in the evening, Amuriat, who has just concluded a regional tour of Teso Region, FDC had been “pushed to the wall” by security agencies which continued to disrupt their campaigns.
“I think that something needs to be done about this, otherwise the whole campaign is going to be meaningless. And as the FDC, we may resort to other means. We are watching Mr. Museveni’s Police and if this continues, we will retreat,” he warned.
Police maintain opposition’s rallies are not in conformity with the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) aimed at preventing the spread of the virus.
The Electoral Commission earlier this week noted with concern that some Presidential candidates were holding their campaigns in a manner that violated the Guidelines for Conduct of Campaign Meetings.
“Some candidates are mobilizing their supporters to gather at campaign venues in large numbers. It is important to note that The Public Health (Control of COVID-19) (Amendment No.3) Rules, 2020, issued on 9th November 2020, provides that gatherings for purposes of political meetings should not exceed two hundred (200) persons,” said EC Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama.
“Some candidates are conducting processions along public roads, through towns and trading centres, and are also holding rallies in non-designated venues as per the harmonised campaign programme. This is in violation of the Commission’s Guidelines that the campaigns should be conducted in observance of Standard Operating Procedures (social distancing, hand washing, and wearing of masks) and in designated places,” he added.
Amuriat waving at supporters in Lira on Saturday (Photos: Dedan Kimathi/ChimpReports)
Amuriat as well as Robert Kyagulanyi have been holding processions and addressing rallies in Eastern and Northern Uganda.
Byabakama said candidates must stop making impromptu stopovers in trading centres, attracting and addressing public gatherings along busy highways from their car rooftops.
However, Amuriat said the enforcement of SOPs seems to be selective especially considering the fact that supporters of Jane Ruth Aceng the Minister of Health were spared.
“This is extremely regretful because as it turns out, the Minister of Health is having a free ride here, blasting music and there is nothing like SOPs that are being respected here,” said Amuriat.
He said FDC shall at an unspecified time take a decision that “will be good for the Party and good for the country” but did not reveal what this exactly meant.
It should be noted that the Party’s Flag bearer and his entourage spent three hours playing hide and seek with police around Lira City until Amuriat was cornered around the road leading to Pacific Hotel at 6:00 PM.
Sensing defeat, he retreated to his suite at the hotel.
At one point on Kitgum road, the situation almost turned ugly when Police officers under the command of Bernard Mugerwa attempted to arrest Amuriat only to be shoved off by the candidate’s guards.
Earlier in the day, on his way from Alebtong, Amuriat tried to interact with his supporters near Lira Bus terminal only to be stopped by Police.
Cases of Coronavirus have been on the rise in recent weeks with a death toll of 144 as of Saturday.
The EC said “processions and public/mass rallies remain banned in accordance with the measures” put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Non-compliance with the Guidelines issued for the campaign period will necessitate intervention by law enforcing agencies, among other measures,” said Byabakama.