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Govt asked to restrain RDCs, security agencies during elections

By Juliet Kasirye

Added 11th September 2020 12:02 PM

The most affected districts including Budaka, Mbale and Busia, where security personnel disrupted elections

Govt asked to restrain RDCs, security agencies during elections

Miria Matembe addressing journalists as Charity Ahimbisibwe (centre) looks on at CCEDU offices in Muyenga. Photo by Juliet Kasirye

The most affected districts including Budaka, Mbale and Busia, where security personnel disrupted elections

The Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) has demanded that security agencies and Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) be restrained from involvement in the electoral processes.

According to Charity Ahimbisibwe, the agency's executive director, there is a persistent growing trend of election violence, which must be curtailed before next year's elections.

She attributed the violence mainly to discontent, frustration, mistrust and disgruntlement among the electorate and political actors.

Addressing journalists at the agency's headquarters in Muyenga, a Kampala suburb on Monday, Ahimbisibwe said they had observed a number of security officials who influenced the elections during the National Resistance Movement (NRM) primaries that were held on Friday.

She pointed out the most affected districts including Budaka, Mbale and Busia, where security personnel disrupted elections. She said the security officials mostly supported ministers.

She said security officials are civil servants, who should not take sides in partisan politics.

Ahimbisibwe said the CCEDU observer team had reported that the RDCs did not only influence the elections, but also determined who won in various places.

She said the voting method of lining up behind candidates also contributed to violence.

In Jinja East constituency, she said people who took bribes from two camps started fighting at the polling stations.

"Besides, some candidates were following up agents to identify the people who did not vote for them, she said.

"We need to go back to the secret ballot because it is vital for people to have their right to privacy to choose their candidate without any intimidation," she said.

However, over the weekend, NRM spokesperson Emmanuel Dombo said he had interacted with the voters at Katine in Soroti, who pointed a good number of advantages of lining up.

He said lining up is simplified voting for the people who were not literate enough. They also say that lining up avoids stuffing of votes.

On chaos, Dombo said this is a demonstration of the obvious fact that some people who are seemingly powerful resort to violence when they are losing in an election.

"They resort to chaos and that is why the Police has to come to help and restore peace," Dombo said.

"We do not condone violence in the NRM party and that is why the elections have been postponed in Sembabule," he added.

Ahimbisibwe said CCEDU had assembled a team of lawyers to prosecute Police commanders and RDCs who will intimidate or torture voters in next year's general election.

Elly Kasirye, the chairperson of Wakiso district human rights committee, said if the Government believes in elections, it is vital to respect the voice of the electorate and the choice of voters.

"We have identified and seen a lot of candidates not respecting the choice of their people.

In Wakiso district, some candidates went ahead to tear declaration forms, undermining the will of the voters," Kasirye said.

He called upon all NRM flag-bearer position losers to concede defeat because losing is not the end of the world.

Miria Matembe, the chairperson of the CCEDU board of directors, appealed to all political aspirants contesting for power to know there is life after elections.

She advised political aspirants to desist taking elections as a matter of life and death.

While appreciating voters who rejected candidates who give them money, Matembe said: "I appeal to citizens to be careful during elections.

You should not allow to be used, injured, or die because of an election. Elections are not meant to be war, but instead methods through which you elect leaders."

To promote peace during elections, Ahimbisibwe said they have embarked on a campaign to mobilise the citizens to participate in the electoral processes peacefully.

The campaign will promote civic awareness on the need to hold peaceful elections.

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