The Electoral Commission-EC has banned street processions in Hoima and Kaabong districts, as the areas await polls, slated for September 26, 2019. The electorate will be voting for woman representatives in Parliament and local government committees.
The Parliamentary seats in the two districts fell vacant when legislators Tophace Byagira Kaahwa and Rose Lilly Akello opted to switch to the newly created districts of Kikuube and Karenga.
EC Chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi told journalists in Kampala today, that the commission has established that street processions are disorderly, interfere with the peace of other road users, and evoke chaos in electoral processes.
He recollected the events that dominated the Arua municipality parliamentary by-election, one year ago, resulting into clashes between armed forces and opposition groups led by Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi’s People Power pressure group.
It was alleged that Kyagulanyi and his contemporaries commanded a team of youths that obstructed the president’s motorcade and pelted stones that smashed the windscreen of one of the vehicles in the convoy. In the aftermath, four legislators and several other politicians were arrested and charged with treason.
The EC is evoking provisions of the parliamentary Elections Act that give it powers to determine the manner in which the campaigns shall be conducted and provisions of the EC Act that gives it powers to ensure that candidates campaign in an orderly and organized manner.
Justice Mugenyi says the commission will work with security forces to ensure that the guidelines are followed, urging all candidates to abide by the law and guidelines provided by the Electoral Commission.
He adds that in order to ensure orderliness, candidates shall be restricted to gazetted campaign areas that shall be agreed upon during application of candidates.
However, Crispin Kaheru, the coordinator Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda says that the ban is not an effective way to guarantee order during elections. He says that the EC should rather engage candidates on how to conduct themselves and handle their supporters.
Kaheru added the practical side of implementing that might have encumbrances because when people leave a rally, they all walk away at the same time, which in turn becomes a procession.
Meanwhile, the Commission has set August 28 and August 29, as nomination dates for all candidates seeking to contest in the elections. Campaigns shall run from August 30 to September 24, 2019, according to the EC Roadmap.
Polls in the two districts will cost 1.3 billion Shillings.