KAMPALA – Non-Government Organisations-NGO that monitor the electoral process have cast doubt on the possibility of having a credible Ugandan electoral process amidst violent events and frustration of opposition voices during campaigns.
These organized under the National NGO Forum say the episodes of violence observed in previous days and disruptions of opposition campaign programs by the security forces make it impracticable for some of the opposition presidential candidates to campaign.
They made reference to recent protests that erupted following the arrest of National Unity Platform-NUP candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu in Luuka district for flouting COVID 19 guidelines. As a result, 54 people died and over 1,000 arrested. NGO Forum however claims the number of those arrested is 3,000.
Opposition politicians have sometimes been denied access to media. The Forum for Democratic Change-FDC candidate Patrick Amuriat spoke for 30 minutes while off air in Agago district.
Moses Isooba, the executive Director of NGO Forum told press that such events call into question the credibility and fairness of this electoral process.
The group also condemned the use of lethal force while quelling protestors. Xavier Ejoji from Action Aid says police should use proportionate force rather that shoot to kill people. He says a well-trained security officer is supposed to speak protestors out of their action before forcefully dispersing them.
The stories from recent protests show that security did not attempt using civil methods like rubber bullets before firing live bullets to take took lives. Ejoji says security needs to adopt less lethal methods while dealing with civilians.
Yesterday while addressing the country, President Yoweri Museveni said no one shall destabilize Uganda, largely blaming external forces and some local politicians for instigating riots. He condemned protestors who attacked some security officers.
According to some witness accounts reported in the media, it is the military and ununiformed operatives that shot most at people, not police.
Job Kiija, the Executive Director of Innovations for Democratic Engagement and Action- IDEA says that security needs to review its deployment. He says military officers should not be deployed to manage events in the electoral process because they are accustomed to and use of lethal force.
The NGOs says that security seems to be running the electoral process and not the Electoral Commission. They say EC needs to take charge of the electoral process and ensure that police does not abuse the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Act. Rather than request security to abide, they should issue directives because they are the managers of the electoral process.