EC tells police to stop blocking candidates: Bobi writes protest letter

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The Electoral Commission (EC) has urged Police to restrain themselves from blocking presidential candidates from accessing the officially designated venues for their campaigns.

 In a statement released Thursday evening, EC chairperson Justice Simon Byabakama, noted: “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.”

EC’s statement comes after Police blocked Kyagulanyi’s rallies in Hoima, Kibaale and Masindi.

“The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Justice Byabakama stated that he was not aware of the ongoing persecution and harassment experienced by NUP and our presidential candidates at the hands of security forces,” NUP said in a statement.

“He also claimed that he was not aware that in some instances, we have been blocked from going to radio stations.”

“We decided to make a formal complaint to the Electoral Commission! We have seen a letter written by the Chairperson of the EC to the police about some of these matters today, and we can only hope that the Commission will assert itself if they are to give confidence to the citizens about these elections!”

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) and other parties in the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) committed to promoting a peaceful and non-violent electoral process.

The commitment came in the aftermath of the riots that disrupted some parts of the country last week following the arrest of Kyagulanyi on his campaign trail in Luuka district.

The NUP leader was slapped with charges related to undermining the electoral guidelines meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

After spending two days at Nalufenya Police Station in Jinja district, he was granted bail by the Iganga Chief Magistrates Court, allowing him to resume his campaigns – but with stern warning from the court that granted him freedom to adhere to the electoral directives.

According to the Police, the violence left about 50 people dead and several others injured.

Also on Thursday, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) asked the Electoral Commission to reconsider a restriction that bars a candidate’s meeting of more than 200 supporters during the ongoing campaigns.

Church of Uganda Archbishop Stephen Samuel Kaziimba, who led IRCU, told reporters after the meeting that the Electoral Commission and the government should allow maximum sitting based on the number of square metres in a given venue, rather than a fixed number of supporters.

Recently, the Electoral Commission, on the advice of the health ministry, directed all candidates to hold campaign meetings in a regulated manner, preferably virtual, with limited attendance of not more than 200 from the earlier 70, to enable the observance of the two-metre social distancing rule for the attendees.

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