Uganda’s Independent Electoral Commission (EC) chairman Justice Simon Byabakama has said the role of police in campaigns has been to enforce the guidelines that were put in place to prevent spread of COVID-19 and they must be followed.
Byabakama made the remarks after the EC met National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi over continued election violence, held today at EC headquarters in Kampala.
Kyagulanyi petitioned the commission following violent confrontations between his camp and security agencies in which several people have died and others critically injured.
Yesterday in Jinja, police shot at Kyagulanyi’s vehicle damaging the tyres and windscreen prompting him to suspend his campaigns claiming his life was in danger.
Byabakama said guidelines work across the board and every candidate that was approved by EC has to follow the guidelines and SOPs.
“We are in a COVID19 situation, and it’s incumbent for us to maintain the standard operating procedures” Byabakama said.
Byabakama said he is going to convene a stakeholder with heads of security agencies, presidential candidates to discuss the matter’s raised by Kyagulanyi and chat way forward. He however said, if the candidates and their supporters abide by the guidelines, there is no reason why the police have to come in to enforce the guidelines.
In the closed meeting which lasted close to three hours, the NUP presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu presented pictorial evidence of some of the injustices he has gone through during his campaign trail to the Chairman Electoral Commission.
At the meeting, Kyagulanyi was accompanied by NUP party leaders including Secretary General Lewis Lubongoya, Party spokesperson Joel Senyonyi and several MPs. Kyagulanyi narrated to the commissioners the horror he has gone through ever since campaigns began on 9th November 2020 including brutal arrests and firing teargas as security agents disperse crowds of NUP supporters.
After the meeting, Kyagulanyi said he presented several appeals to the EC including the EC to make open declaration to police and the military that they have no business in election campaigns.
A new security team has also been assigned to Kyagulanyi after the previous team commander, ASP Kato, was injured while on a campaign trail in Kayunga.
The Electoral Commission has maintained that it’s still in charge of the campaigns and the entire electoral process despite criticism by some presidential candidates of bias.