Government has re-assured Ugandans that the forthcoming elections will be peaceful amid raising tensions and concerns of a likely occurrence of violence.
According to the executive director of Uganda Media Centre, Mr Ofwono Opondo, government is committed to a peaceful and transparent elections scheduled for this month.
Below is the full statement;
As the country approaches the Election Day February 18, 2016, the Government would like to thank all Ugandans and other members of the public resident here for ensuring and observing the prevailing tranquil atmosphere that has generally characterized the campaign period over the last three months so far.
Government would like to reiterate its commitment to a transparent democratic path and re-assure Ugandans that the elections will be held under a peaceful and tranquil environment, and that the elections will be free and fair, the outcome of which will truly reflect the will of the Ugandans. All necessary, adequate and robust arrangements have been put in place to ensure that elections go normally and that after elections Uganda continues to enjoy the prevailing peace and phenomenal development that we are witnessing.
So far government has invited International Election Observer Missions from the European Union (EU), The Common Wealth, The African Union (AU), The International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), The Inter-Governmental Authority on Draught (IGAD), The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and The East African Community (EAC). All are either already here or have confirmed their participation in these elections. In addition there are local and international Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs, and Civil Society Organisations (SCOs), and 976 local and international media personnel that have been accredited as observers, monitors and reporters to these elections, and we believe the number will even grow bigger as the polling day approaches. All these groups are free to conduct the necessary due diligence in accordance with the laws of Uganda, and established and well known international norms and practices.
Government does not therefore expect particularly members of the diplomatic missions here to unduly meddle in our internal politics and elections as some of them are already doing. Government takes strong exception to meddling and would like to caution those doing so to desist forthwith, and in case there are matters of concern they should be addressed through the appropriate diplomatic channels. Uganda seeks mutual respect to its sovereignty in accordance with international laws, norms and practices.
That said however, it has come to the attention of government that in spite of early and repeated caution some elements in the opposition have continued to talk of defiance during the on-going election campaigns.
This is very evident in the tone and statements of the Forum for Democratic (FDC) Presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye, and some of his supporters especially parliamentary candidates allied to him.
These incidents although isolated and limited in nature are of great concern to all law abiding and loving members of the public.
The repeated incidents of violent friction particularly by the supporters of Dr Kizza Besigye targeting the police including physical assault on law enforcement personnel must be condemned and discouraged. The police deserve respect by all in order for them to work effectively and efficiently in protecting the general public.
While the public has generally shunned recruitment into political quasi militias, some opposition groups continue to mobilize under the pseudo noum of Power Ten (P10) mainly in Kampala, Wakiso and parts of Mukono districts.
It is this group that is responsible for the on-going fraudulent collection of people’s National Identity cards (IDs) or writing down ID numbers with suspect dubious and criminal intentions.
Government would further like to inform the public that these same fringe opposition groups are mobilizing what they call Platform to Rescue Uganda, and Benghazi Pressure Group similar to those in Libya in 2010/11.
Government is following and investigating reports that appear to link Gen. David Sejusa aka Tinyefuza to some of these groups, and if found to be true appropriate actions will certainly be taken to curtail and neutralise his activities.
As the law is currently, no serving police, prisons or army personnel whatever the rank can be a member of a political party, an election campaign task force, support candidates, be a campaign agent, or speak publicly on partisan political issues. The only role serving officers have is law enforcement when called upon, and to cast their votes in secret as the law provides for all registered voters.
The purpose of this mobilization is to first generate big campaign crowds for the rallies that opposition candidates Besigye and Amama Mbabazi are due to be addressing in Kampala, and its metropolitan areas that include Wakiso and Mukono. Big election campaign crowds are by themselves not a problem as far as government is concerned.
Under the guise of mobilizing their supporters for vote protection on polling day, the same opposition elements have sinister plans to eventually turn into acts of civil disobedience.
There is an on-going drive to intensify negative propaganda against President Yoweri Museveni, senior government and security officers. Part of this plan is already evident in sections of the media deliberately distorting or quoting out of context public statements issued by government officials with the view to cast government in negative light and cause public disaffection.
Government has noted a growing trend in parts of the country where the opposition especially FDC perceives itself as strong intimidating members of other parties into silence from public political discourse and possibly discourage them from getting out to vote on polling day, and also keep away throughout the vote counting, tallying and declaration of election results.
There is advanced plans for post-election unlawful activities starting with erecting road blocks at major highways to paralyse economic activities in the country. In addition, the same elements plan to attack several offices of the Electoral Commission to disrupt would be otherwise smooth processes.
The same elements intend to attack through infiltration perceived vulnerable police posts, infiltrate police personnel, and crime preventers.
They also plan to engage in the destruction of public utilities which affect many livelihoods. Soon after the declaration of the presidential election results if it does go their way, these groups have planned to mobilize and pour youths on the roads on February 19, 2016 to demand immediate employment from the government. This, they believe will be the immediate spark to a chain of violent riots across the country beginning with Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono and other major urban centres.
Once again, government takes this opportunity to strongly warn those few, perhaps disoriented elements not to take the law into their own hands with the hope of either disrupting the elections or post-election atmosphere. The public is hereby asked continue shunning these groups because they are up to no good and have no valid reasons to take the unlawful and dangerous direction they are seeking to resort to. All legal, peaceful and democratic avenues exist for any grievances to be raised and addressed. We must emphasize that the law will prevail and nobody will be permitted to behave contrary to civilized norms.