Police have said they will enforce the Electoral Commission (EC) directive restricting voters from staying around the polling station to monitor vote counts.
“There should not be mass assemblies around polling centres according to the EC,” said the Deputy Police spokesperson, Maj Gen Paul Loketch.
“You need to vote and go home. Any act of hooliganism around the polling stations will be dealt with,” he added.
Loketch spoke this Friday alongside other top security officials during a joint press conference as the country prepares for the January 14 general elections.
The restrictions have since met stiff resistance from opposition who claim security services and EC are planning to rig the election in favour of the incumbent.
It’s a common tradition to have voters witness the counting process as it encourages transparency.
In previous elections, voters would stay at least 20 meters away from the polling station.
But EC chairman Justice Simon Byabakama recently said voters should immediately disperse after casting their ballots to prevent further spread of COVID-19.
He emphasised that only agents of candidates, EC officials and security personnel would be allowed at the polling stations.
Voters who don’t wear masks will be turned away as well.
“While it is right for people to witness the counting of votes, the few people that will remain behind will ensure transparency. It is also dangerous to keep people of different political parties and supporters of rival candidates in the same area,” said Byabakama.
Security chiefs said some actors intend to disrupt the election process by claiming fraud as part of a wider strategy to engage in acts of violence.
But Loketch emphasised that Police, working with sister security outfits will not tolerate violence.
“We shall not accept any disorder or chaos in the country. Nobody will shake our resolve,” said Loketch, a battle-hardened General.
“We are a very resilient force with an agile team that can adjust and adapt to any threats,” he emphasised.
Police chief Martin Okoth Ochola said “whoever causes trouble will regret why his or her mother gave birth to him or her.”
The EC has since started dispatching polling materials to various districts across Uganda ahead of next week’s election.