The Electoral Commission of Uganda (EC) has warned police and other sister security agencies against blocking presidential candidates from accessing campaigning venues.
EC chairman Justice Simon Byabakama, has issued a statement noting that all campaigns should be carried out in the stipulated areas in accordance to Elections Act and Roadmap for the 2021 General Elections.
“presidential candidates have a right to move and access the designated campaign venues, and hold their campaign meetings, in compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines issued by the Electoral Commission.”
He added, “Uganda Police is required to ensure that the electoral activity takes place in a peaceful manner and in accordance with the law and guidelines.”
“This is, therefore, to urge you to facilitate the smooth actualisation of this electoral activity, and ensure that there is no disruption and/ or such blocking of the harmonised campaign programme.”
Byabakama says his guidance follows complaints from candidates and continued press reports of candidates being frustrated by Police.
“(We) have received some complaints from some presidential candidates and also seen press reports that Uganda Police is blocking and/ or disrupting them (candidates) from accessing scheduled venues for purposes of conducting their respective campaign meetings.”
He stresses, “This has resulted in unnecessary confrontations, with physical clashes involving security officials and the candidates and their supporters, which have portrayed the conduct of this activity in a negative way.”
Justice Byabakama also noted, “As you are aware, after the nomination exercise, presidential candidates harmonised their respective campaign programmes covering the entire country for the duration of the gazetted campaign period. The Commission has provided a copy of this programme, including changes as they are officially made, to all stakeholders including the Uganda Police Force.”
“Please note that conducting campaigns as per the harmonised programmes is a recognised activity under the Presidential Elections Act and Roadmap for the 2021 General Elections,” he advised.