The United State has issued a press statement saying it is concerned about the forthcoming elections as the electoral environment is deteriorating.
The statement signed by John Kirby, the Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs at the State Department list numerous use of excessive force by police, intimidation and arrest of journalist as some of the issues that have led to deteriorating environment.
“The United States is concerned that the electoral environment in Uganda is deteriorating in the run-up to national polls next month. Numerous reports of the police using excessive force, obstruction and dispersal of opposition rallies, and intimidation and arrest of journalists have contributed to an electoral climate of fear and intimidation, and raise questions about the fairness of the process.”
According Jotham Talemwa, the Spokesperson of the Independent Electoral Commission of Uganda, there shouldn’t be worry because everything is moving on well.
“Nobody should lose sleep as we are working with all candidates and in fact the allegations are untrue because we allocate similar resources across board. All candidates have security and they are allocated same time and where there are complaints we have addressed them”
Mr Kirby in the statement further appealed to the presidential candidates in the race to desist from inflammatory rhetoric’s as it could incite violence. Last year supporters of Independent candidate Amama Mbabazi and those of President Museveni fought in the Ntungamo district an incident that left the country in fear that the campaigns could easily turn chaotic as we head to the polls on Feb 18, 2016. Another similar incident did occur in Gulu when supporters of Deputy Speaker Jocab Oulanyah who is vying for his Omoro County took the venue that had been reserved for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) flag bearer Dr Kizza Besigye and when the two camps came together, violence broke out which left journalists beaten and cameras destroyed.
“We also underscore the need for all candidates and their campaigns to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric that could incite violence” adding “We note with particular concern the reports that Christopher Aine, an opposition campaign aide, has disappeared”
The statement dated January 15, further says free and fair elections depend on all Ugandans being able to exercise their right to assemble peacefully, express their opinions, and participate in the electoral process free from intimidation and abuse. They also depend on government institutions and security forces remaining neutral, defending the rights of all people and protecting all parties equally. “We call on the government, civil society, and political parties to do their part to ensure a peaceful, transparent and credible electoral process.”
When contacted for a comment on the statement, Police publicist, Fred Enanga said the matters in the statement are not worrying at as police is mandated to provide security. Enanga said the complaints of intimidation and using excessive force, obstruction and dispersal of opposition rallies are false.
“Out of the 7000 candidates, we have had issues with only eight candidates who didn’t follow the EC guidelines especially on the issue of time but there has a media propaganda trying to depict police as a partisan force” Enanga said.
Adding “They should get the real picture on ground instead of relying on propaganda”
Enanga said that apart from incidents of some presidential candidates wanting to visit public institutions like hospitals and schools where, they clashed with police, there hasn’t been any problem with campaigns.