The United States says it is concerned by incidences of electoral violence in Uganda orchestrated by the country’s police and other state agencies.
John Kirby, the Spokesperson, Bureau of Public Affairs Washington, DC in a statement Friday January 15, 2016, said the United States was concerned that the electoral environment in Uganda is deteriorating in the run-up to national polls next month.
US says it has received numerous reports of the police using “excessive force, obstruction and dispersal of opposition rallies, and intimidation and arrest of journalists”.
“We note with particular concern the reports that Christopher Aine, an opposition campaign aide, has disappeared.”
Aine, the former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi’s head of security, went missing in December last year.
A week back, a picture of his alleged dead body was circulated on social media leading to the arrest of a local tabloid, Red Pepper’s editors, Ben Byarabaha, and Dickson Mubiru, the Managing Editor of Kamunye newspaper.
The picture also lead to the incarceration of former Internal Security Organisation [ISO] operative, Charles Rwomushana.
Museveni recently denied his government’s involvement in Aine’s disappearance or alleged death.
He insisted Mbabazi was telling lies because he knew where Aine was hiding but that he would be found and brought to book over Ntungamo violence.
The US said these and other incidents have contributed to an electoral climate of fear and intimidation, and raise questions about “the fairness of the process”.
“We also underscore the need for all candidates and their campaigns to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric that could incite violence.”
According to Washington, 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.
Police has often been seen acting passively as NRM supporters hold demonstrations to disrupt rallies of their former Secretary General, Mbabazi.
Such incidents were recorded in Masaka, Mukono, Hoima, Fort Portal, Kasese, Ntungamo, Bushenyi and other districts.
Mbabazi has several times written to the Electoral Commission about such sabotaging events but nothing has been done.
Yet when NRM supporters threw a stone at Mbabazi’s convoy in Ntungamo sparking a fight, it was Go Forward supporters who got arrested and imprisoned.
President Yoweri Museveni has promised to follow all Go Forward supporters who participated in the fight and arrest them.
On several occasions, opposition FDC has accused police of raiding hotels, breaking into their offices and confiscating candidate, Kizza Besigye’s campaign materials.
Police has also been on the spot for trying to disrupt Besigye’s rallies as was the case in Ntara Kamwenge district.
There was also an incident which saw Independent candidate, Joseph Mabirizi, reportedly kidnapped in Busoga region.
Police dismissed his story as a lie.
The US further warned Museveni against using the military in 2016 elections.
This comes at a time the Commander-in-Chief reportedly ordered the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Katumba Wamala, to deploy the national army [UPDF] across the country citing possible sabotage by opposition.
Washington said free and fair elections also depend on “government institutions and security forces remaining neutral, defending the rights of all people and protecting all parties equally”.
“We call on the government, civil society, and political parties to do their part to ensure a peaceful, transparent and credible electoral process.”
US State Department