MS Risk Blog

Ugandan Politicians Raise Fears of Violence Ahead of Next Month’s Presidential Polls

Posted on in Uganda title_rule

On Saturday, Ugandan political candidates raised fears of violence ahead of presidential polls next month, with accusations of police brutality and claims that opposition groups are organization milita forces.

Seven opposition candidates are vying to end President Yoweri Museveni’s 30-year rule in the 18 February poll. Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, currently faces his stiffest opposition from Kizza Besigye, a three-time loser for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), and Amama Mbabazi, a former prime minister and ruling party stalwart who now leads the Go-Forward party. All sides are accusing each other of arming militas in a bid to press their claim to political power. Last week, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda warned, “we are following up reports that a small group of the radical opposition are talking and planning violent actions during and after the election.” He further indicated that the “government has established that some of these groups, under the guise of training agents to protect their votes, are raising semi-milita groups,” adding, “these groups, we have learnt, are being prepared to incite provocation and violent confrontations, starting on polling day until the swearing ceremony in case they lose the lections.” Opposition leaders however have dismissed these claims, and in turn have accused security forces of backing the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) to harass the president’s rival. According to Kizza Besigye, who has called on the president to “stop using police and other state apparatus to intimidate, harass, arrest our supporters,” “the trend of violence has left us worried.” Ex Prime Minister Mbabazi has also disclosed that “we have seen acts of violence wherever we have been. Police have used teargas and live bullets to stop our rallies…We ask President Museveni to stop these acts. If he does not act, then people will be forced to rise up and who knows what comes out. We have seen such situations elsewhere turning violent and Uganda is no exception.” Police chief Kale Kayihura has stated that police have recruited around a million civilians as “crime preventers,” describing them as “part of the police effort to enforce community policing.” Opposition politicians however say that the teams are partisan and back the ruling NRM. All eight candidates are due to hold a live televised debate on 15 January.

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