The Inspector-General of Police Martin Okoth Ochola has warned all presidential candidates who have continued to defy Covid-19 guidelines while campaigning and that should get ready to suffer the consequences.
In the document dated 18th November, Ochola said, “Although the guidelines issued by the Electoral Commission are clear, we continue to witness candidates and their agents holding unauthorized rallies, processions and assemblies. Unlike 2016, this time is faced with a pandemic that can only be controlled if we adhere to Ministry of Health guidelines with regulated gatherings of not more than 200 people and the use of new media (online media), to help safeguard the health and safety of all Ugandans and visitors to the country.”
“While we understand the right to freedom of expression as a very important part of democracy, unauthorized assemblies are currently prohibited under the Electoral Commission and Ministry of Health guidelines. As a result, the safety and security of all candidates, their agents and the successful conduct of the political campaigns remains a top priority. Fortunately, all candidates are aware of these guidelines.”
He added,“During these first 9 days, we have repeatedly cautioned all individual actorsa nd political groups, against acts of civil disobedience like holding unauthorized and defiant campaigns, burning of tyres, use of illegal roadblocks, deflating tyres of police vehicles, intimidation, looting shops, dangerous driving on major roads and provocative behaviour towards law enforcement personnel.”
As a way of combating the said violence, Ochola also noted that Electoral and Political Offences Department at CID headquarters, has obtained videos of the respective campaign trails, and started gathering evidence to press formal charges, on candidates, campaign agents and influencers who are caught on the wrong side of the law