As of today, 4/01/2021, the countdown to the polling day for the General Elections draws closer, with only 10 days remaining. It is a very crucial stage as several candidates try to roll out their campaign strategies, messages, targeting different groups through various media channels and physical contacts.
Although Uganda as a Country has no specific threats, we have noticed an increase in acts of misinformation and outright disinformation online, through the use of negative propaganda videos and hostile footages, copycat violence, civil disturbance, conspiracy theories from enemies of the state, defacing of posters and malicious damages. There is also a challenge of unfiltered social media propaganda with multitudes of bloggers and individuals which acts altogether can lead to lawlessness and anarchy in our country.
We continue to review several scenarios of coordinated attacks on electoral activities in the past, attacks on political leaders, kidnaps, clashes between rival groups, attacks on vehicles, radicalized youth groups and come up with multi agency response plans to counter them.
In addition, we have information about mobilizations by different political camps of local poll watchers. Although this is a good initiative, of promoting vigilance, in most cases, they tend not to abide by the electoral laws and guidelines. As a result they end up intimidating rival camps instead of protecting people’s right to vote.
Therefore, our priority is to ensure that there are no disruptions at the polling centers. Those who are planning on harassing voters on polling day especially elderly persons, women and new young voters are warned to desist from such wrongful acts. Failure to do so will definitely attract sanctions against them.
The Joint Task Force continues to review and strengthen the security infrastructure at all levels. It is multi-layered from the polling areas, tallying centers, sufficient manpower development at the parish, sub county and county levels, with mobile squads on foots, motorcycles, motorized, flying squads and other Quick reaction teams, tactically deployed for the safe upkeep of the elections. We have designated patrol routes across polling areas to guard against acts of impunity and criminality. We have also mapped out hotspot polling places, that are too competitive and most at risk, and allocated security personnel to deter any threats.
We would like to reassure all Ugandans and in particular voters that all polling places will be safe. And also further remind them to take their right to vote seriously and not leave other people to vote for them. Democracy is not a spectators role, but requires commitment.
CP FRED ENANGA