Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has warned against foreign interference in the country’s politics, a day after widespread violence rocked the country following the arrest of presidential candidates Patrick Amuriat and Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.
The President said “some of those groups making trouble in urban areas” were being supported by outsiders including “homosexual groups that don’t like the stability and independence” of Uganda.
“They should not divert us. The virus is here and now there is hope of a vaccine. We are also working hard towards finding a cure. They want to create violence so that elections are not held,” said Museveni while meeting Karamoja region leaders during a campaign meeting on Thursday.
“Elections will be held and they will lose badly,” he added.
Riots broke out in different parts of the country following the arrest of Kyagulanyi and Amuriat for reportedly disobeying COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
Electoral Commission chairperson Simon Byabakama said it is a violation of the Campaign Guidelines for a candidate and his/her agents to mobilize and/or encourage supporters to gather at campaign venues in large numbers in contravention of The Public Health (Control of COVID-19) (Amendment No.3) Rules, 2020, issued on 9th November 2020, which provides that gatherings for purposes of political meetings should not exceed two hundred (200) persons.
Police fired water cannon, bullets and tear gas at brick-throwing protesters in some of the most widespread and violent clashes in more than five years.
Running battles in different parts of the country especially Jinja, Mukono, Gulu and Lira followed weeks of growing tensions between the opposition and government over the conduct of campaigns which police say will increase the spread of Coronavirus.
The opposition says the ruling NRM party supporters including musician Bebe Cool have been holding processions and therefore lacks the moral authority to condemn large gatherings.
Bebe Cool yesterday stopped the processions, saying he would employ the door-to-door campaign strategy.
Several presidential candidates have suspended their campaigns to show solidarity with Bobi Wine.
Museveni, who is also the NRM Presidential Candidate, warned rioters in urban centres including Kampala they would soon lose appetite for violence.
“We are campaigning indirectly were we don’t hold rallies for the sake of not infecting more people. We have already lost 2 members of parliament, scientists etc. It is criminal for anybody to ignore this,” said Museveni.
“We are not going to tolerate this. Everybody must respect the rules of the Ministry of Health. Our people should be kept safe. Those who have been attacking people in Kampala will soon lose appetite for violence. You have entered an area that we know very well. Whoever did that will regret,” he added.
Bobi Wine remains detained at Nalufenya Police in Jinja. He is expected to be charged at Iganga Chief Magistrate’s court today.
About the campaign
Meanwhile, Museveni told delegates at the meeting the road from Moroto, Kotido, Kaabong to Kidepo will be tarmacked. The road from Soroti to Amuria-Obalanga-Acanipii to Abim will also be bituminized, he said.
Museveni, who was accompanied by First Lady Janet Museveni, said women and youth groups in Abim, Kaabong Kotido, and Karenga districts were being financially supported by government.
He said the government would not tolerate “confused people” who are playing with fire.
“Do they know what sacrifice was made to achieve the good infrastructure like roads?” he asked, adding, electricity would be extended to the region.
Janet, who previously served as Karamoja Affairs Minister, said NRM campaign meetings are being held in a very orderly manner.
“Our meetings are orderly and peaceful showing the principles we stand for of peace, unity and development. We must inculcate this in our children in Uganda,” she said.
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