West Nile leaders task govt on violence ahead of 2026 polls

Residents of Kampala line up to cast their votes during the 2021 General Election. PHOTO/ FILE

What you need to know:

  • Political parties in Uganda have been pushing for the implementation of political reforms but the pace has been slow. 

Political, religious and civil society leaders across West Nile Sub-region have asked the government to put in place interventions that will stop violence during the 2026 General Election.  

The past elections in Uganda have been riddled with cases of violence that included intimidation, arrests, killings and injuries, especially for supporters of Opposition parties. 

Cases of kidnaps and blackmailing of political opponents have also been witnessed.  

These, the leaders say, have tainted the credibility of elections and discouraged citizens from exercising their voting rights.  

Speaking during a civic engagement by the West Nile Civil Society Network (WECISNET) on Monday, the programme officer, Mr Moses Oringi, said: “From our findings in the communities, violence during elections has led to loss of lives, injuries, displacement of family members and destruction of property.” 

“The government through the security forces needs to take a strong stance against violence during elections and work towards maintaining peace in our community. If there is violence, people get discouraged from participating in elections,” Mr Oringi added.

Uganda is gearing for the next General Election in 2026, with several aspirants combing villages across West Nile conducting consultations among voters.  

Mr Martin Andua, a former MP aspirant for Terego East Constituency on the Alliance for National Transformation ticket, said: “It is unfortunate that elections are viewed as a do or die activity. Violence breeds conflicts and we need an impartial security. Can we fast-track the electoral reforms so that it can guide on how elections are managed?”

“We have EC commissioners that are appointed by the President. This should change because how will they be impartial? They will be compromised in their actions. If they are appointed by an independent body, it will be better,” Mr Andua added.

In response, the Electoral Commission returning officer for Koboko District, Mr Osman Ezale, said: “We are trying hard to see that our electoral process is transparent. We (EC) do not recruit electoral officials based on political party affiliations. We are trying to improve civic and voter education so that people make independent decisions.”

He said the Electoral Commission is faced with challenges of monetisation of political campaigns. 

“Some of the violence is perpetuated by candidates who know that they cannot make it and they end up disorganising others,” he said.  

The Resident District Commissioner, Mr Geoffrey Okiswa, said: “Politics should not be a dirty game. Monetisation of politics results from poverty.”  

The public relations officer for the police force in West Nile, Ms Josephine Angucia, said: “If any officer acts outside the law during elections, he/she should be reported and investigated. It is true that there is inadequate voter education and non-compliance to electoral laws.” 

Political parties in Uganda have been pushing for the implementation of political reforms but the pace has been slow.