Kotido – National Resistance Movement (NRM)’s Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has vowed to crush the individuals behind the protests following the arrest of National Unity Platform candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine
Museveni made the remarks while addressing leaders in Kotido on Thursday November 19 as he traversed the Karamoja sub-region
Protests rocked Kampala, Masaka, Iganga, Jinja, Luwero and surrounding areas subsequent to the arrest of Kyagulanyi in Luuka over flouting of the set anti-COVID-19 standard operating Procedures (SOPs) and electoral guidelines.
Kyagulanyi was detained at Nalufenya police station in Jinja sending an uproar of protests erupting in Kampala spreading to several parts of the country leading up to the deaths and several injured in multiple altercations with the Security authorities.
On the wide spread protests, Museveni said government will not accept the hooliganism exhibited by the protesters, cautioning they will be crashed.
“They have entered an area of fighting we know very well. Whoever started it will regret it. Some of these groups are being used by outsiders who don’t like the stability and independence of Uganda but will discover what they are looking for,” Museveni sternly warned.
Angry protesters chanting the ‘Free Bobi Wine’ slogan turned on several people donning the yellow colours of the NRM party beating them to pulp and attacking security personnel attempting to maintain the cool amid the protests.
A rather disconcerted Museveni warned that they will soon make it difficult for anyone to Touch NRM members.
“Those who have been attacking NRM people in Kampala will soon lose that appetite. You will see the uniform of NRM and won’t touch it. Even if they abandon it, you won’t touch it. They want to create violence so that elections are not held, however, elections will continue and those fighting will lose. They will answer for the crimes they have committed.”
Museveni further revealed that the set anti-covid-19 guidelines and SOPs were put in place for the benefit of members of the public not to contract the virus but warned it is foolishness for some people to ignore them.
“We are here in this campaigning ‘scientifically’ where we dont hold rallies for the sake of avoiding infecting more people. We have lost quite a number of people already including two Members of Parliament and some scientists,” said Museveni.
He added: “It is therefore criminal for anybody to ignore this. We are not going to tolerate that and whoever does it (violates guidelines) will regret what they did.”
The Wednesday events saw a total of seven people including security personnel killed.
“We had seven people who lost their lives out of the violent fracas. About 45 people got injuries, including an LDU whose head was smashed,” the police spokesperson, Fred Enanga, the police spokesperson said.
The police mouthpiece, however, blamed the National Unity Platform for failure to control the demonstrators; most of whom he affirmed were supporters of the party.
The latest statement by Candidate Museveni (incumbent), who doubles as the commander in chief of the armed forces is a pointer of the force that government is set to deploy to enforce guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and the Electoral Commission in regards to campaign meetings and the number of people to attend.
Museveni; statement is also an indicator of the force that government is set to use to crack down on protesters in various parts of the country but also violators of the guidelines.
These deliberations come barely a day since the Uganda Police issued dire guidelines to be observed amid the campaigns and forthcoming General Elections.
Issued by Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Okoth Martin Ochola revealed that the law enforcement body will take a tough approach against political candidates for adamantly declining to adhere to set SOPs in efforts to maintain order and curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
“As you are aware, the political campaigns have entered day nine for Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government positions. Although the guidelines issued by the Electoral Commission are clear, we continue to witness candidates and their agents holding unauthorized rallies, processions and assemblies,” said the Inspector General in a statement.
Ochola stressed that unlike in 2016, this time the world is faced with a pandemic that can only be controlled if people adhere to Ministry of Health guidelines with regulated gatherings of not more than 200 people and the use of online media to help safeguard the health and safety of all Ugandans and visitors to the country.
“While we understand the right to freedom of expression as a very important part of democracy, unauthorized assemblies are currently prohibited under the Electoral Commission and Ministry of Health guidelines. As a result, the safety and security of all candidates, their agents and the successful conduct of the political campaigns remains a top priority. Fortunately, all candidates are aware of these guidelines,” he said.
The joint security task force pointed out that during the first 9 days, they have repeatedly cautioned all individual actors and political groups, against acts of civil disobedience like holding unauthorized and defiant campaigns, burning of tyres, use of illegal roadblocks, deflating tyres of police vehicles, intimidation, looting shops, dangerous driving on major roads and provocative behavior towards law enforcement personnel.
The police commander, however, said that despite repeated warnings issued to candidates, their agents and the wider public about the negative impact and health
risks of holding unauthorized rallies and processions, police continue to witness acts of defiance and total disregard of the EC guidelines.
“Therefore, those who shall defy these Electoral Commission guidelines with their sinister plans aimed at disrupting the electoral process will definitely suffer consequences,” Ochola said.
“We have, therefore, adopted a tougher approach to preserve the integrity of the electoral process. We have dispatched our specialist teams and quick reaction teams, to identify ring leaders (and principals) for apprehension in the face of crime. We have disseminated our comprehensive policing plan to all territorial commanders for them to implement without fear or favour,” he added.