Wednesday February 17 2016

Poll observers condemn Besigye arrest, caution police


Kampala. Local election observers have joined several voices condemning the arrest of Dr Kizza Besigye on Monday, but were quick to urge the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) flag bearer to “strictly adhere” to the law.
The 18-member coalition under the umbrella, Citizens Election Observers Network Uganda (CEON-U), yesterday took to a pre-election press briefing in Kampala to call for restraint from the police and the eight presidential candidates.
They demanded that each side must follow the letter and spirit of the law as the country goes to polls.

Dr Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director Foundation for Human Rights Initiative and founding member of CEON-U, said: “We call on security agencies to conduct their activities within the law.”

He added: “Police cannot act outside the law. We condemn in the strongest terms possible the arrest, mistreatment of Dr Besigye and the eventual loss of life, two days to the election.”
“We call on the police to desist from acts likely to fuel violence even as they maintain law and order,” Dr Sewanyana further said.

The human rights lawyer and activist waved a red flag to participants in the election process hell bent on unleashing violence, revealing that the coalition continues to record documentary evidence that could come into play as and when aggrieved parties choose to seek redress in the courts of law.

The judiciary this month at a meeting of justices of the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, relaxed the judicial practice strictness on admitting electronic evidence, deciding to allow the same in this year’s election petitions as opposed to sworn affidavits alone as in the past.

CEON-U has since deployed 1,250 election observers in the country, with a ratio of 1:40 as the Electoral Commission has 28,010 polling stations dotted across 112 districts and 290 constituencies.