Security has been beefed up in Kayunga District ahead of today’s hotly-contested by-election to fill the position of LC5 chairperson.
The seat fell vacant in June this year after the mysterious death of the incumbent Muhammed Ffeffeka Sserubogo of the National Unity Platform party (NUP).
Sserubogo had a month earlier been sworn-in after emerging winner during the January general elections.
According to the Electoral Commission (EC), at least 190,000 people are expected to cast their vote across the 338 polling stations in the district.
The EC cleared six candidates to participate in the by-election but the race is tight between NUP’s Harriet Nakwedde and National Resistance Movement party’s Andrew Muwonge.
Other candidates include Anthony Waddimba (Democratic Party), Jamir Kamoga (Independent), Majid Nyanzi (Independent), and Boniface Bandikubi (Independent).
By last evening unspecified number of police officers and soldiers had camped at the district headquarters, with some of them patrolling strategic places.
Police’s acting commissioner in-charge of operations Denis Namuwooza, who has since pitched camp in the district, justified the heavy deployment, saying that the area has many crime hotspots.
“There is no harm in the heavy deployment because there are many polling stations and we have to escort voting materials and also keep peace so that people vote peacefully,” Mr Namuwooza said.
The district police commander, Mr Felix Mukizi, warned that anybody who attempts to attack security personnel will be dealt with.
He revealed that marine police had been deployed on rivers Nile and Ssezibwa and Lake Kyoga, and fire brigade put on standby to ensure a peaceful election.
EC officials led by the chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama, spent the better part of yesterday in a stakeholder’s meeting at the district council offices where tallying is expected to be done.
Justice Byabakama appealed to Kayunga residents to embrace peace during today’s voting exercise
“Let’s avoid conduct that can get you arrested or punished. If people in Kayunga embrace peace, all the security deployed here will be redundant. Violence doesn’t determine a winner, it is just destructive,” he said.
He added: “You should emulate your counterparts in Rukungiri District where we had a hotly-contested District Woman MP by-election but all the deployed security officials were redundant because people chose peace over violence.”
The district returning officer, Ms Jennifer Kyobutungi listed Kayunga Town Council, Bbaale, Kangulumire and Nazigo sub-counties as hotspots.
Officials from both NUP and NRM’s top brass have since last week pitched camp in Kayunga to campaign for their candidates.
Although EC closed campaigns on Tuesday, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja yesterday headed to Bbaale County with other party big wigs.
On Tuesday, NUP supporters were dispersed with teargas, leaving some of them injured including their flag-bearer Ms Nakwedde as they reportedly held a procession to their final rally in Ntenjeru village.
NUP’s official in-charge of elections in central region, John Mary Ssebuufu, accused security personnel of selective application of the law during elections.
Mr Ssebuufu alleged that security operatives had arrested their agents who were supposed to supervise today’s exercise.
“How can you claim that the campaigns are peaceful when our candidate is nursing wounds inflicted on her by security personnel?” Mr Fred Nyanzi, the NUP national mobiliser, asked.