Government says it is ready and set to handle any emergencies including disasters that may come as a result of the election being held in Kenya today.
Voting has already started in the general election with long queues being reported in some parts of the country. Eight candidates are in the race to replace President Mwai Kibaki, but the contest is between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta.
On Sunday government officially established an emergency, security and coordination centre to handle Kenya’s post election emergencies in Uganda.
The centre at Malaba Regional Police headquarters in Tororo has several government line sectors including counter terrorism and public order management section, Uganda People’s Defence Forces and Joint Intelligence Centre-JIC, operations and information.
Others are medical and emergencies section, Administration and Logistics and the commanders of each sector.
The coordination centre is being headed by Rose Nakabugo, the commissioner in charge of Disaster Preparedness and Management in the Prime Minister’s Office (OPM) and assisted by Grace Turyagumanawe, Director of Operations in the Uganda Police Force and Jonah Jackson Bakalikwira, the Assistant Commissioner in the Ministry of information and National Guidance.
Commissioning the operationalization of the centre in Tororo on Sunday, Stephen Kagoda, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Internal Affairs said government has put in place everything that it requires to respond to any emergency that would arise from the election.
Kagoda says Uganda learnt a tough lesson from the 2007 post election violence after several Kenyans took refuge in Uganda. He says Uganda does not wish for a repeat of such a scenario and therefore wishes Kenyans a peaceful election.
Commissioner Rose Nakabugo, who has shifted her office to Tororo, says the OPM has set two departments of Disaster preparedness and Refugees to handle any post election crisis. She says they are working together with other line ministries and humanitarian agencies to ensure that Ugandans are not affected by whatever will happen in Kenya as a result of the election.
On security matters, Major General Julius Oketta, the Director of the National Emergency Coordination at the OPM, says they have put all the measures to ensure that incase violence erupted in Kenya, it will not spill over into Uganda.
Oketta, who has also relocated to Malaba, says the army is working with other security agencies in the country together with their counterparts in Kenya to ensure there will be no interruption on Uganda’s daily businesses as a result of the Kenya election.
Oketta says they have beefed up security along the Uganda-Kenya border to ensure safety for Ugandans and the Kenyans.
Turyagumanawe, who is heading the security team deployed at the Kenya-Uganda border, says there is mo worry for Ugandans. He says government is in control of every situation at the moment.
He says police has deployed considerably to ensure safety, law and order during and after the election.
Uganda suffered the brunt of the 2007 Kenya’s post election violence with traders still demanding compensation for losses amounting to 2.5 billion Ugandan shillings which they claim they incurred.
Several Kenyans sought refuge in Uganda leaving government to grapple with them to ensure their safety. Some of those displaced are still living in Kiryandongo district.
In 2007 post-election violence dented the image of Kenya when more than 1000 people were killed and 650,000 others displaced.