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The Democratic Party-DP wants the government to lift the night time curfew on polling days to permit for proper operations of political parties and transparency of elections. Uganda has been under curfew since March 2020 as part of the control measures against the spread of the corona virus disease.
With a few exceptions, nobody is allowed to move between 9:00pm and 5:30am. However, the DP National Campaign Coordinator, Fred Mwesigwa wants the Electoral Commission to engage security such that party agents, Election observers and interested members of public are able to move freely so as to follow the election process.
Mwesigwa argues that in many cases voting materials arrive late at polling stations, which affects voting time where in some cases the exercise goes on even beyond 9 PM. He stresses that the Commission should discuss with security agencies to let people with documents showing that they are agents of different candidates to be able to move even after 9pm.
Mwesigwa further asked the Electoral Commission to reconsider their position barring voters from keeping at the polling stations after casting their votes. Although the Commission argues that the ban is intended to ensure that there are no crowds at the polling stations, which could facilitate the spread of COVID 19, Mwesigwa says the law gives voters the right to stay back maintaining 20 meters away from the cordoned off area.
Mwesigwa made the statements while giving an overview of the campaign season, which he say has been filled with encounters of the wrath of security personnel. He says in November 2020 when they just started campaigns, their Presidential candidate Nobert Mao was blocked from accessing Kasese town until four hours later in the night. He also cited other incidents when they went to Buliisa and Mbale district and security trailed them teargassing their supporters who had converged.
Mwesigwa says police has exhibited unprofessionalism in the manner it has conducted itself in this election, something that has led to loss of lives and injuries. He questioned why the Electoral Commission has left the police to “take over” management of an election.
He says apart from the incumbent Yoweri Museveni who has held illegal processions, the opposition has had their campaign rallies interrupted and supporters dispersed. The Electoral Commission banned processions and rallies with more than 200 people as a means to control the spread of COVID 19.
But Mwesigwa argues, the guidelines were implemented selectively which made the campaign unfair. He wonders how the Commission would then deliver a free and fair election. Mwesigwa also argues that apart from the involvement of security and their atrocities committed, the campaign period was too short for candidates to campaign effectively.
Mayambala Kiwanuka, the DP National Chairman asked Ugandans to maintain peace but urged security to avoid provocation adding that it takes a small igniting power to cause an explosion.
Faith Namusana, the DP candidate for Ngora District called upon the Electoral Commission to exercise its independence and adhere to provisions of the law. She further called for a nonviolent election.