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Police Won’t Bend the Law For You: Human Rights Body Cautions Opposition

The Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) has appealed to opposition political candidates to adhere to the set police and Electoral Commission campaign guidelines if they want to have smooth campaigns.

The Commission was responding to concerns raised by Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine of National Unity Platform (NUP) and Patrick Amuriat Oboi of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), who engaged in clashes with Police since early last week when they were nominated.

The police arrested Bobi Wine and Amuriat saying they were planning to hold processions, something that is against COVID-19 containment measures.

The UHRC in response however, said the candidates should have followed the guidelines put in place.

The commission acting chairperson Katebalirwe Amooti Irumba made the statement on Monday after holding a closed door meeting with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) concerning human rights and challenges relating to the use and access to different media platforms during 2021 general elections.

“If you are going to use a radio station and know public gatherings and processions are not allowed, why then do you go with a procession of people accompanying you to the radio station to make noise outside there. What is the purpose of that? You are violating the guidelines which have been put up for the protection of all of us including the candidate himself. The candidates also should have a responsibility,” he said.

In a bid to prevent further spread of COVID-19, the Electoral Commission banned all mass campaign rallies and announced that campaigns will be conducted “scientifically” through the media.

On this matter, Katebalirwe said candidates must follow the guidelines set by the Electoral Commission if they don’t want to be harassed by the police.

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“If you are going to do your campaign using media houses in the context of your own decisions to defy the guidelines, defy the law and you announce it, what do you expect from those who are responsible for security in the area where you are campaigning. You expect them to bend to your own law of the jungle? No. They have to do their work. You have to respect the law, you have to respect the guidelines that have been issued,” said Katebalirwe.

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