The Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) has told the government and the Electoral Commission (EC) to put to a halt the emergence of militia groups in the country, saying they could lead to violence during the 2016 elections.
Addressing journalists during the weekly press briefing today in Kampala, the party spokesperson Micheal Orach Osinde, who referred to the militia groups as ‘violence perpetrators’ said that government and other stakeholders need to rein in the militias early in a bid to curtail violence.
Recently a Senior Presidential Advisor on Political Affairs Major Roland Kakooza Mutale and embattled Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago declared that they had recruited scores of youth to safeguard their political interests during the election period.
Maj Mutale claims his group of about 600 that are being trained in Luweero will ‘protect NRM votes in the 2016 elections’, while Lukwago says his Solida group is to counter the activities of Mutale’s ‘vigilantes’.
“UPC calls upon all opposition political parties and all security agencies to investigate the threats by Kakooza Mutale and other pressure groups,” Osinde said.
He stressed that militia groups do not care about the lives and property of Ugandans, citing incidents in 2011 where lives and property were lost.
“EC is looking on, once a threat is declared, there is no way a sane government can leave it, unless they are part of it,” he added.
The UPC spokesperson further advised the EC and Uganda Human Right Commission to carry out civic education to sensitize the public about the dangers of subscribing to militia groups.
“They should come out and do civic education, voter education is different from civic education,” asserted Osinde.
He also noted that the Electoral Commission should plan for auditable procedures so that it deters fraud, to ensure transparency and inclusive participation in next year’s elections.
“EC must develop codes of conduct that establish parameters for appropriate standards of behavior during this period of to mitigate latent conflicts,” he said.
Previously, several stakeholders including internal affairs minister Aronda Nyakairima, EC boss Eng Badru Kiggundu and the police have castigated the training of militia groups, saying the outfits are illegal and will not be tolerated. Indeed, reports indicate that police has summoned Maj Mutale and Lukwago, but it is not yet clear whether the two have answered the summonses.
Meanwhile, the UPC has expressed discontent with The Democratic Alliance for ‘dealing’ with Ambassador Olara Otunnu, who the party accuses of masquerading as its representative.
According to UPC Administrative Secretary Higenyi Kamba, Ottunu has on many occasions introduced himself as UPC party president ‘yet he is not’.
“I lodged a complaint to TDA criticizing why they worked with Otunnu; I informed them that Akena is the new UPC president,” Kamba said adding: “the EC does not recognize Otunnu.”
And weighing in on the issue, Osinde said that Otunnu and his cabinet are in TDA as individual members and they don’t represent the aspirations of UPC. “Otunnu can be in TDA as a prominent person but not as UPC president,” Osinde said and added: “They don’t choose for us, it is really why we opted out of the alliance.”
He also revealed that the party was considering taking legal action against Otunnu and his cabinet.