KAMPALA – The Electoral Commission has warned Police against blocking presidential candidates from holding their campaign meetings in the areas they are slated to.
This follows continued outcry from different political players (Presidential candidates) about Police disrupting their scheduled campaigns.
In a letter to the Inspector General of Police, John Martins Okoth Ochola, the EC chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama instructs the police to ensure that every presidential candidate has smooth campaign meetings with zero disruption saying they (EC) have received numerous complaints from presidential candidates about disruption and blocking their campaign meetings which he notes is wrong.
“This has resulted into unnecessary confrontations with physical clashes involving security officials and the candidates and their supporters which has portrayed the conduct of this activity in a negative way,” Byabakama says.
The EC chairperson explained that after nomination, presidential candidates presented their programs where they are supposed to campaign in all parts of the country and that this has to be covered in a gazette period of time.
Byabakama says that all stakeholders including police are aware of the said campaign program and therefore should not be interrupted.
“In that regard, presidential candidates have a right to move and access designated campaign venues, and hold their campaign meetings in compliance with standard operating procedures and guidelines as issued by the Electoral Commission.”
In the letter, the EC Chairman also reminded the Police Force how conducting campaigns is a recognized activity under the Presidential Election Act and the Roadmap for the 2021 General Election and called upon them to facilitate the smooth actualization of the electoral activity and ensure there’s no disruption or blocking of the harmonized campaign programme.
Almost all presidential candidates, save for the incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni have had a fair share of police actions that has either arrested them, fired teargas to disperse their supporters or blocked them from going to a certain rally venue.
Police in defense have always insisted that their actions are meant to ensure the presidential candidates adhere to the guidelines put in place by the Health Ministry to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
The EC remarks come days after National Unity Platform presidential candidate Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine said that the EC chairperson Justice Byabakama continues to act ignorant despite his efforts to reach out to him about the Police’s efforts to sabotage his campaigns.
“We have written two protest letters to the Electoral Commission. The few times I have spoken to Mr. Byabakama personally on the phone, he has said he doesn’t watch news and is not on social media. He is continuously feigning ignorance of what is happening,” Bobi said.