Friends, this is a statement I have just issued at a Press Conference at the Uganda Media Centre today:
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
We invited you today, to inform the country through you, about the critical importance of peace, unity, security and stability during this election campaign period and beyond.
As we have said in the past, peace, security, unity and stability of our country are common goods, which we must all guard jealously irrespective of our differences. They are cardinal values that do not know any differences. They are critical for our country’s progress and development.
The presidential campaigns have largely remained peaceful thus far, as the candidates have traversed the country and many citizens have come out to listen to the various messages. This is to be applauded, celebrated and encouraged.
Sadly, though, it has come to our attention that some political actors including some candidates are diverting from this good trend. There is an emerging trend of fanning sectarianism through the use the media and other platforms. This is not only dangerous; it is also criminal.
We appeal to all candidates and their supporters to focus more on the things that unite and build their communities and Uganda rather than dividing them.
If those involved in trying to divide Ugandans along the above mentioned sectarian lines don’t desist, government will invoke the necessary legal machinery to investigate and prosecute them in the courts of law.
For instance, we are following up reports that a small group of the radical opposition are talking and planning violent actions during and after the election with the overall objective to disrupt social and economic activities as well as to paralyze governance.
As part of this dangerous plan, there is also persistent talk of “defiance” mainly at campaign rallies by some candidates. Such candidates have been stating publicly state that they will not respect any of the laws or guidelines as issued from time to time by either the Independent Electoral Commission or other responsible Government agencies. This, again, is unacceptable and illegal. Whatever we do must be guided by, and conform to the laws of Uganda.
Government has established that some of these groups, under the guise of training agents to protect their votes, are raising semi-militia groups under different code names like Power 10 (P10), Pentagon, Youth Brigade and Ki-face, among others. These groups, we have learnt, are being prepared to incite violence and violent confrontations, starting on polling day until the swearing ceremony in case they lose the elections.
Election campaigns are not a licence to break the law.
The NRM government will not standby when some elements are trying to cause violence, havoc and disrupt the peace and development in Uganda.
We would like to let the public, including those being lured into these mischievous schemes, to know that government is closely following them. I, therefore, appeal our people, particularly the youth, not to be tempted into joining such groups seeking to break the law. Those who dare to join will face the full force of the law.
Finally, I would like to re-assure Ugandans and the international community that the NRM Government has in place sufficient measures to ensure that the forth-coming elections are held under tranquil and peaceful atmosphere.
This will ensure that the outcome is credible and reflects the true will of our voters and, should, therefore, be respected by all.