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Presidential Candidates Decry Police Deployments During Campaigns

They say that a number of their activities have been blocked, and sometimes they are barred from using certain roads to reach their campaign venues on time while oftentimes, their team members are beaten, arrested, or injured during running battles with security personnel.

Audio 5

A section of Presidential candidates, currently on the campaign trail ahead of the 2021 general election has decried the unpredictable police deployments, in several parts of the country.

They say that a number of their activities have been blocked, and sometimes they are barred from using certain roads to reach their campaign venues on time while oftentimes, their team members are beaten, arrested, or injured during running battles with security personnel.

The National Unity Platform Presidential Candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu has often been involved in running battles with police, who also used tear gas and live bullets to disperse crowds that follow him on the trail. Although guidelines issued by the Electoral Commission and the Ministry of Health require candidates to hole meetings of not more than 200 people, Kyagulanyi;'s meetings have attracted multitudes od supporters, where ever he has gone.

Joel Senyonyi, the spokesperson for the National Unity Platform says the police applies double standards in enforcing the campaign guidelines.

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Gen. Gregg Mugisha Muntu, the Alliance for National Transformation Presidential candidate has so far been blocked from reaching three districts of Bugiri, Entebbe, and Kasese. But Muntu accuses the EC of playing below its potential by letting the police and other security agencies usurp their role in the 2021 elections.

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Patrick Oboi Amuriat, the Forum for Democratic Change Presidential Candidate who was barred from campaigning in Lira, Mbarara and Isingiro districts says that although the EC chairperson has apologized on several occasions, the police keep attacking opposition candidates and their teams.  Oboi was arrested in Mbarara for allegedly knocking down a police officer with a motorcycle which was ridden by one of his supporters.

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Nancy Linda Kalembe, a female independent presidential candidate has missed campaigning in the three districts of Gulu, Masindi, and Agago because of the heavy police deployment. In Gulu city, the district police commander told her that he was once demoted for allowing opposition candidate Kiiza Besigye to campaign in the area.

She says that on all occasions, the police was deployed without any communication to her campaign team and the Electoral Commission.

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John Katumba, another Independent candidate has befallen the same fate in several districts while on his campaign trail. He was blocked from carrying out campaigns in Kamwenge and Iganga districts yet they were on his approved EC 2021 campaign schedule.   Similarly, another independent candidate Willy Mayambala, says in more than five districts.

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Paul Bukenya, the Electoral Commission Spokesperson says they have written to the police and asked all candidates to file complaints to the EC when they are treated unlawfully by the police. He says the police would be held liable if they undermine candidates' political freedoms and rights.

The presidential race has attracted 11 candidates among them Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni (NRM), Nobert Mao (DP) Robert Sentamu Kyagulanyi (NUP), Patrick Oboi Amuriat (FDC), Gregg Mugisha Muntu (ANT) and independent candidates Nancy Linda Kalembe, Joseph Kabuleta, John Katumba, Willy Mayambala, Fred Mwesigye, and Henry Tumukunde.