They also decried the fact that voters and officials failed to observe the health ministry’s guidelines on the prevention of COVID-19 during the ruling party’s primary elections.
Civil society organisations (CSOs) have demanded the prosecution of all candidates cited in violence and other electoral malpractices during the just concluded National Resistance Movement (NRM) primaries for Members of Parliament.
The consortium of 60 nongovernmental organisations under the National Election Watch-Uganda (NEW-U) said if such acts are not punished, the violence will spill over into the general election slated for February next year.
Led by Rita Aciro, the co-chairperson of NEW-U, the activists asked the Police and courts of law to expedite the process to ensure justice for all those people whose families have been affected.
They also decried the fact that voters and officials failed to observe the health ministry's guidelines on prevention of COVID-19 during the ruling party's primary elections.
Henry Muguzi, the founding national coordinator of the Alliance for Campaign Finance Monitoring (ACFIM), said: "NEW-U observers noted that on the polling day, most voters were aware that voting would be by lining up. \
However, in all the stations observed by NEW-U very few voters wore masks. Nor was there social distancing or washing hands as required and announced by the NRM's electoral commission (EC)." He explained that some of the few voters who wore masks lowered them to their chins when arguments arose at the polling stations.
"The spread of COVID-19, according to scientists, can be contained by adhering to SOPs, such as washing hands, wearing masks, and social distancing. This omission could potentially lead to an increase in community infections," Muguzi warned.
Aciro said NEW-U observers conducted interviews with male and female voters of various ages at the polling stations, some NRM party officials, supervisors, candidates and their agents at the polling stations.
The CSOs held a press briefing at the offices of Uganda National NGO Forum at Kansanga, on the outskirts of Kampala.
They also cited the incident where the Police confirmed that the state minister for labour, Mwesigwa Rukutana, was arrested after he was allegedly implicated in a shooting incident involving his neighbour.
"If violence involving shooting and injuring others is witnessed in the primaries of the NRM who are brothers and sisters, we expect more bloodshed in the general election, which will involve more political parties in 2021," Sarah Bireite, the executive director of the Centre for Constitutional Governance said.
Bireite said security personnel, candidates and their agents should desist from inciting any forms of violence during electoral processes.
"The Police should arrest and charge all perpetrators of election violence without discrimination," she said.
They also blamed the voter bribery that marred the process, bribery being accepted as a norm in Uganda's politics affects who those want to participate in politics, especially women and the youth.
Police deputy spokesperson Polly Namaye told journalists that incidents of violence were recorded in Kanungu, Rubanda, Mbarara and Isingiro districts, among others.
However, she added, the voting was peaceful with isolated incidents of animosity.