Uganda Police Force have challenged the Electoral Commission (EC) to compel presidential candidates to comply with COVID-19 prevention guidelines during the campaign period as the country with a pandemic that has so far killed 201 people.
IGP Okoth Ochola said in a letter to EC chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama that the law enforcement body was working around the clock to enforce compliance to the health guidelines amid provocations from presidential candidates.
“Police has spared no effort to ensure that the electoral and Public Health laws and guidelines are followed by all the candidates and this has been done in the face of extreme provocation by some of the candidates,” said Ochola in a letter dated November 27.
Ochola was responding to Byabakama’s letter querying police on blocking or disrupting presidential candidates‘ scheduled campaign meetings.
“Presidential candidates have a right to move and access the designated campaign venues and hold their campaign meetings in compliance with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines issued by the Electoral Commission,” Byabakama wrote to Ochola recently.
In response, Ochola has now asked Byabakama to cooperate “in ensuring that all candidates follow the law in their campaigns especially given the grave public health consequences of allowing large public gatherings in the middle of the pandemic.”
Police further asked for specific details regarding the alleged disruption of presidential candidates’ campaign engagements.
“Unfortunately, neither the candidates’ names nor the dates, locations and other necessary particulars of the alleged disruption are mentioned in your letter to enable us respond to the allegations,” said Ochola.
“As you rightly pointed out, it is the role of the police to ensure that electoral activities take place in accordance with the law and guidelines. This is a shared role…” he emphasised.
Earlier today, President Museveni urged authorities including courts to ensure presidential candidates comply with COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
“The court system should also help us in implementing the law…They gave strict conditions to Kyagulanyi’s bail. I hope they are serious,” said Museveni.
“Villagers are not fully sensitized. Leaders should refuse to encourage people to gather. He should be the one to discourage them not encourage them.”