Faced with growing criticism over police’s brutalizing of presidential candidates and their supporters, the Electoral Commission (EC) chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama has penned a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martin Okoth Ochola warning the police to stop interrupting candidates.
In his November 26 letter, Byabakama demanded to know why the police have continuously interrupted campaign meetings of opposition presidential candidates.
Byabakama started that he had received several complaints from the candidates expressing dissatisfaction over the continuous interruption of their meetings by the police.
“The action by the police have caused unnecessary confrontations which have portrayed the campaigns in a negative way. As you are aware after the nomination exercise, presidential candidates harmonized their respective campaign programs covering the entire country,” Byabakama wrote.
“Please note that conducting campaigns as per the harmonized program is a recognized activity under the Presidential Elections Act and the Roadmap of the 2021 general elections,” he further stated.
His letter came as the police continued to have confrontations with presidential candidates Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu (NUP), Patrick Oboi Amuriat (FDC) and Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde Karugugu (Independent) who have on several occassions been blocked from their accessing their designated venues.
On Thursday, Kyagulanyi was blocked from addressing a scheduled campaign meeting in Masindi district less than 24 hours after the police made it difficult for him to address suppprters in Hoima city.
“Presidential candidates have a right to move and access the designated venues for as long as they comply with the standard operating procedures issued by the Electoral Commission. Police is required to ensure that this activity takes place in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the law and guidelines,” Byabakama wrote.
According to the EC guidelines, a campaign meeting has to be limited to 200 people a nimber that the Inter-religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) told the EC should be determined based on the size of the venue.
Ugandans are expected to go to polls to elect their president and Members of Parliament on January 14, 2021.