Soroti- Following the Electoral Commission’s announcement barring voters from carrying phones to polling stations, Independent presidential candidate, Mr Amama Mbabazi, has dismissed the notice as illegal and asked voters to turn up with their mobile phones and record whatever they deem wrong.
Yesterday, police also issued a similar directive banning phones and cameras at polling stations during elections on Thursday and warned that any defiance will attract arrest.
However, speaking at a press conference in Soroti yesterday, Mr Mbabazi described the ban on photography and phones as a clear attempt by the Electoral Commission to curtail the vigilance of Opposition supporters and their ability to monitor the goings on at polling stations.
“I would like to encourage all our voters to go with phones and cameras and feel free to record anything they feel is wrong. Our supporters should simply reject that line of no phones and no photography. That’s what we precisely want to have there, so that everything is recorded,” Mr Mbabazi said.
“The Electoral Commission has been behaving in a funny way. What do they want to hide?” he asked.
Mr Mbabazi also questioned the intention of having people stand 100 metres away from the polling station saying it will deny them a chance to follow the counting of votes.
“So what’s the purpose (of standing at 100 metres away)? In the law we said people should stand at a reasonable distance but still giving you an opportunity to see what is going on.
People should be vigilant because I know some guys will be deployed to disrupt the flow of voters to the polling stations. We want our people to exercise maximum vigilance on polling day,” Mr Mbabazi said.
While announcing the no-phone directive, EC chairman Badru Kiggundu neither provided reasons for the ban nor quoted any specific law but simply said voters, representatives of political parties and observers should switch off their phones once they enter the polling area.
Mr Mbabazi also poked holes in opinion polls so far published which indicated that his rating was below that of his closest rivals Dr Kizza Besigye of FDC and Yoweri Museveni of the NRM. He said he is confident he will perform well in the elections.
“Those polls are obvious fiction and mere advertisements by those who pay for them like any other advertisements,” he said. “In a climate of fear, when you conduct a poll, people will either keep quiet or speak in favour of those that intimidate them,” he added.
Three different opinion polls have placed Mr Mbabazi at a distant third some giving him 4.9 per cent and the most recent one by Nairobi-based Ipsos giving him a paltry one per cent.
Mr Mbabazi, however, said after spending nearly three months on the campaign trail, he has no regret whatsoever on what he has experienced.
“There is no regret, especially given the fact that everything happened at the last minute. In any case, there has been all manner of sabotage,” he said.