EC, IGAD warn youth against poll violence ahead of 2026

The Electoral Commission chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama, addresses youth during a civic engagement at Makerere University on June 14, 2024. PHOTO/BUSEIN SAMILU

What you need to know:

  • Mr Sam Ogwal, the Igad youth envoy, said it is always sad to see the youth lose their lives during chaos in electoral processes.

The chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) has asked the youth to desist from engaging in violence during electoral processes because the end result is always disastrous.

Justice Simon Byabakama, who addressed more than 100 youth at a civic engagement at Makerere University on Friday last week, said the political actors who mislead them to cause chaos are not directly affected by the violence and other negative consequences.

“We have discovered that there are people who lure and incite you into such practices. I’m here to remind you that violence is evil and gravely affects you more,” he warned.

“We can achieve a nation we all can be proud of. Youth participation in democratic processes is not just a right but also a responsibility. A united, peaceful, prosperous Uganda is not a coincidence, but a divine design. Together, we can achieve a nation we all can be proud of,” he added.

The peace engagement was organised by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) youth envoy in partnership with the EC, and the National Youth Council.

Mr Sam Ogwal, the Igad youth envoy, said it is always sad to see the youth lose their lives during chaos in electoral processes.

“The nature of our chaotic electoral process needs to be addressed urgently as we head into 2026. During the infamous November 2023 violence, it was the youth that were killed. Young people need to know that voting a candidate of your choice in big numbers is better than chaos but most of their huge numbers stop in crusades and rallies,” he said.

The youth, who attended the engagement, faulted the EC for looking on while security personnel continued to mete out violence against political contenders and their supporters, especially from the Opposition.

Justice Byabakama in response said the EC treats all candidates equally and promised to hold an engagement with security organs and party leaders to harmonise their positions ahead of the actual campaigns.

He told the youth that their participation in the electoral process is a democratic right as enshrined in Article 1.4 of the Constitution.

“Our goal is to enhance the role of youth in this process through engagement. With more than 5.8 million youth eligible to vote, their constructive engagement in electoral processes is pivotal. It enhances electoral integrity and expands democratic inclusivity,” he said. Mr Ogwal warned: “Beyond the ballot, our actions define our future. Let’s commit to peaceful engagement, constructive dialogue, and active participation. Together, we can build a Uganda that is great for us and for generations to come.”

“As we approach 2026, let’s commit to active participation and positive impact. Young Ugandans, let’s ensure our elections are a celebration of respect, and progress.  Our unity is our strength as young people,” he added.

Looking back
President Museveni in the 2021 polls faced youthful and crowd-pulling Opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, who led the National Unity Platform (NUP) into the polls. That political cycle, which was marred by chaos against Opposition leaders and supporters, especially in Kampala and its outskirts, ended in the November riots where at least 50 people were killed after security agencies arrested Bobi Wine in Luuka District, Busoga Sub-region.