Earlier this week, the Inspector General of Police in Uganda warned voters against causing any mayhem. It was during a press briefing, when the General stated they were watching out for civilians who intended to hang around the polling stations, with intentions to cause a disturbance. His exact words were “regret why they were born.” From these remarks, it is evident the Ugandan authorities are prepared and armed to the tooth.
Also, the chief police, Martin Ochola, stated that since they were protecting the people, they would even beat them up for their safety. He added that they would also use reasonable force to ensure that civilians don’t go where there is a risk. And to top it all, he cautioned that anyone who caused trouble would regret why his or her mother gave birth to him or her. These warnings came after Uganda has experienced escalating tensions amid preparations for the elections. Rallies have been banned, presidential candidates detained, and even protestors have succumbed to clashes. Therefore, the impact felt during this period has been intense, and the situation has not improved as the elections are yet to happen.
Why the Threats?
The warning came after opposition leaders called on their supporters amid campaigns to remain in the polling stations after voting. This is to prevent any form of election irregularities. The latter has been a problem not only in Uganda but many states after votes are cast. As such, all opposition leaders in Uganda care about is free and fair elections. Meanwhile, the chief police stated that the voters remaining in the polling stations was against the electoral commission’s rules.
However, despite the warnings, some journalists have already felt the wrath of police beatings. The officers have arrested, beaten, and even confiscated their equipment. The reason being the police have caught them filming campaigns of the opposition leaders.
To justify the act, Ochola says that the police were beating the journalists to refrain them from going where there was danger.
“Police sometimes beat journalists to help them, for their safety,” he said, adding that he would not apologize for that.
Bobi Wine Takes Caution
While officers are warning civilians and the elections approaching, Bobi Wine decided to fly his children out of the country. He said that he took to the decision following the ongoing harassment he has undergone in the past months. Therefore, since he intends to keep his children safe, he thought keeping them in another country was what was best for them.
Nevertheless, Bobi Wine’s decision sparked reactions from different authorities. Adolf Mwesigye, the minister for defense and veteran affairs, condemned Wine for his action. He went ahead and defended the NRM party, stating that it has never been its policy to harm opponents. For instance, nothing has happened to the families that stood in the past elections.
Despite Adolf’s defense, many, including human rights activists, forecast the possibility of unfair elections. This is because Uganda does not even provide a suitable environment for free and fair elections. Therefore, there is a possibility that the credibility of the January 14th elections will be affected.