The Electoral Commission has called on the Uganda Police Force to stop blocking presidential candidates from accessing scheduled venues to conduct their respective campaign meetings.
In a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martin Okoth Ochola on Thursday, the Electoral Commission Chairman Justice Simon Byabakama said police disrupting presidential candidates has resulted into unnecessary confrontations with physical clashes involving security officials and the candidates and their supporters which has portrayed the conduct of electoral activity in a negative way.
“As you are aware, after the nomination exercise, presidential candidates harmonized their respective campaign programmes covering the entire country for the duration of the gazetted campaign period. The Commission has provided a copy of this programme, including changes as they are officially made to all stakeholders including the Uganda Police Force,” read the letter in part.
Byabakama clarified in the letter that conducting campaigns as per harmonized programme is a recognized activity under the Presidential Elections Act and the electoral roadmap for 2021 general elections.
“In this regard, presidential candidates have a right to move and access the designated campaign venues, and hold their campaign meetings in compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines as issued by the Electoral Commission.”
“Uganda Police Force is required to ensure that this electoral activity takes place in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the law and guidelines. This is therefore to urge you to facilitate the smooth actualization of this electoral activity and ensure that there is no disruption and/ or such blocking of the harmonized campaign programme,” said Byabakama.
It should be noted that opposition presidential candidates Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu of National Unity Platform (NUP) and his Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) counterpart Patrick Amuriat Oboi have since the commencement of election campaigns faced the wrath of police as the latter always disrupts their campaign meetings and dispersing their supporters with teargas.
Other opposition presidential candidates have suffered the same include Lt Gen Henry Tumukunde.
The opposition presidential candidates have always called on the Electoral Commission to intervene in the matter.