This week, there are local government and parliamentary elections in different districts at different levels across the country. Some elections will be by universal adult suffrage while others will be by the Electoral College. The time table from the Election Commission (EC) runs as follows:
- Monday 23rd, July 2018 is polling day for women committees at parish level in the 8386 polling stations across the country.
- Tuesday 24th, July 2018 is polling day for new Sub Counties, municipal divisions and town councils. On this same day, we shall also have nominations for parish chair persons (LC2) across the country.
- Friday 27th, July 2018 is polling day for Members of Parliament in the 6 municipalities, Mayors and councilors in the new municipalities. It is also the day for the elections of the parish chairpersons (LC2) across the country.
It is noted with concern that it is a fully parked week. And elections have always evoked emotions that sometimes spark off commission of election related offences. During the campaign period, some acts of violence have been registered in a couple of areas like Bugiri, Njeru and Sheema.
These incidents are being investigated and those responsible will be prosecuted in accordance with the law. The investigation and prosecution of such cases will not end with the elections.
It is therefore imperative that all players do their work pretty well to avoid such incidents that promote violence and crime. On the part of the police, operation orders have been drawn, briefings done and deployments completed. The police must ensure that these elections go on smoothly.
- All Unit Commanders must assess threats, deploy adequately and monitor the process to ensure a safe environment for citizens to exercise their constitutional rights of voting for leaders of their choice without fear or intimidation.
- Visibility of the police is guaranteed. This will be reflected in the strategic deployments informed by intelligence, supported by our cooperation with sister security agencies and local leaders as well as the population generally. All these must be geared toward delivering a crime free election.
- There are allegations of arbitrary arrests, intimidation and abuse in all forms by elements within the security sector. If it has happened at all, it must be stopped immediately. All police officers must ensure that no abuse whatsoever is occasioned on citizens. In the same vein, no citizens should engage in the commission of crime. If they do, Unit Commanders must investigate and prosecute these elements without fear or favour.
- On use of force, Unit Commanders must clearly brief all officers deployed to manage the elections on the guidelines for use of force. These include: Legality, Proportionality, non discrimination…..
- Unit Commanders must ensure that they have robust quick response teams to address emerging issues in their areas of responsibility. Well manned telephone lines must be provided and feedback must be given.
- Candidates and all political actors should exercise mature and clean politics devoid of violence both in talk and action. The language that incites the electorate into violence should be avoided in all engagements even when there are disagreements at any level.
- The media is called upon to equally broadcast what is right and well researched. Some media houses incite violence through unprofessional and irresponsible reporting. Those that use social media platforms should equally verify information to avoid inciting and spreading violence.
- The public must at all times remember that there is justification for engaging in crime because of an election. Therefore, they must restrain from violence even they are provoked by the political opponents.
- Voting peacefully is a clear sign of political maturity which must be seen this time round. All incidents of violence must be reported early and quickly to the nearest police in your localities for appropriate action.
Finally, I want to guarantee our total commitment to securing these elections at all levels. As a country, we have taken strides in as far as handling elections is concerned. We must protect these processes that foster positive engagements to nurture our democratic credentials as a country. Those seeking leadership positions must always remember that clean leadership comes from clean leaders and one can only be effective if they set the standards to that effect. In all these, peace should be the defining factor before, during and after these elections.
I wish all Ugandans a peaceful, violence free election exercise as per the time table shown above from the responsible body that runs elections in the country.
For God and My Country
J.M Okoth-Ochola (ESQ)
INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE
JULY 23, 2018