Tribal sentiments, dressing in colours aligned to political parties and growing suspicion over vote rigging are some of the potential causes of violence during and after the 2021 polls starting tomorrow Thursday, January 14, 2021.
This was forecast during a stakeholders meeting on voter education held at Kolping Hotel in Hoima city.
During the meeting organsied by Community Driven Network (CODNET) Uganda, the Albertine Deputy Regional Police Commander, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Joseph Kato, said all stakeholders needed to pay attention to the issue of the growing tribal sentiments right from presidential candidates to the lowest position.
Responding to CODNET Uganda’s dissemination of the findings from the communities about these elections and forge a way forward to disabling the possible violence triggers, the senior police officer said it is serious on ground to the extent that supporters of different candidates are insulting each other on tribal grounds.
He said this has exposed innocent people to hatred and fearful for their security just because of their tribes.
Mr Kato urged all stakeholders to use any opportunity they get on radio during the remaining hours to polls and afterwards to preach tolerance, coexistence and peace in order to see a peaceful election period.
The same issue had been captured in CODNET Uganda’s community engagements report along with some politicians taking advantage of religious differences to win political favours which is as dangerous as tribalism.
Mr Jackson Bahemurwaki of Kigorobya sub-county condemned some government leaders who he claims to have on many occasions witnessed using words of intimidation in campaigns instead of talking developmental points.
“If you change government, there is going to be war. If you vote so and so, there will be violence. This means they are preparing the communities for violence than peace. If it is about intimidation then why do we need elections? Let us have a positive thinking and have a peaceful election period,” said Mr Bahemurwaki.
The Rev Eddy Akora of Kakindo North Parish of the Church of Uganda says he has been working to preach against tribal and religious bigotry during the election period to the public which he said are real threats to peace and stability.
While reacting to numerous concerns raised during the meeting, Mr Douglas Matsiko Twine, the Hoima City Returning Officer, said they have done all it takes to educate voters on ensuring free and fair elections and were continuing with the same.
He said in a bid to ensure transparence, Kitara Secondary School Main Hall has been identified as a tally centre for Hoima city while Kitoba Sub-county headquarters will be a tally centre for Hoima district.
According to him, even those without voter location slips will be assisted to know their polling station as soon as they reach any nearby polling station.
“You tell our people not to get discouraged. Our trained persons at every polling station will be able to search and if your name is not at that station, they will be able to identify and tell you where your name is registered and you go there directly,” he said.
Mr Matsiko added that no security detail will be present at the polling station though some people are misleading that the military presence will be too much there.
He said there will be only two police constables; one for polls and another for COVID-19 guidelines implementation.
Ms Norah Basemera, the Voter Education Programme Officer at CODNET Uganda called upon all people to turn up for polls and decide for the future of the nation on their own.
She noted that some people look to be losing interest in elections for fear that there will not be justice for their votes.