The US government has issued a security alert to its citizens residing in or intending to travel to Uganda ahead of the country’s presidential election slated for February 18 and local election scheduled between February 24 and March 10.
In a statement published on its passports and international travel department website, U.S government says all its citizens are urged to exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation throughout the electoral period.
“This Travel Alert expires on March 31, 2016. The State Department recommends U.S. citizens maintain a high level of security awareness leading up to, during, and following the election period. U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies, polling centers, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind as gatherings intended to be peaceful can become confrontational and turn violent,” the statement reads in part.
According to the statement, U.S citizens are supposed to review their personal security plans; remain aware of their surroundings, including local events; and monitor local news stations for updates.
“Although there is no indication that U.S. citizens may be targets of violence, you are urged to exercise caution and stay current with media coverage of local events.
Monitor local media for any changes in the election schedule. General election results are expected to be announced within a week of the election,” the statement read further.
The travel alert comes just a week after the U.S warned of “deteriorating” electoral environment in the East African country ahead of the forthcoming general elections.
The U.S pointed to reports about the Uganda Police “using excessive force” as well as the obstruction and dispersal of the political Opposition’s campaign rallies.
Through a January 15 press statement, US Department of State Bureau of Public Affairs spokesperson John Kirby also pointed to the intimidation and arrest of journalists.
These cases, he said, have contributed to a climate of fear and intimidation, and raise questions about the fairness of Uganda’s electoral process.
“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,” Mr Kirby said.