By Spy Uganda
Kampala: Last week, the Chairman Electoral Commission Justice Simon Byabakama summoned National Unity Platform Presidential Candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu citing his “continuous flaunting” of COVID-19 guidelines meant to curb the deadly virus.
According to the letter seen by TheSpy Uganda, Kyagulanyi who was cautioned not to delegate but attend in person vowed not to put Byakama’s orders in consideration, noting that he has attended enough meetings with the electoral commission officials which has resulted into nothing fruitful other than wastage of his limited time.
Actually,Bobi Wine deligated his deputy in charge of Buganda region, also Masaka MP Mathias Mpuga and the party SG Lewis Rubongoya David to attend on his behalf as he attends to ‘more important’ issues.
We are tasking the Electoral Commission to ensure that they do not make it clear to citizens that they are Gen. Museveni’s walking stick! I have requested a team, led by NUP Deputy President for the central region to interface with the Commission about these matters,” said Kyagulanyi.
Read Kyagulanyi’s Full Response To EC
“Firstly, I have noted with concern several inaccuracies and misinformation in your letter and wish to once again put the record straight. Let me reiterate that our campaign has not in any way breached the COVID-19 regulations or the SOPs. In fact, it is the police and other security agencies which have persistently breached the law, blocked our meetings, illegally held us at roadblocks, denied us access to accommodation, ejected us out of radio stations, etc.
These are matters we have brought to your attention severally but you have taken no action to ensure that the brutality stops and that the playing field is leveled for all candidates. For your reference, I will give a summary of the complaints we have brought to your attention in the past few weeks; It has been our intention to hold meetings in selected venues and observe SOPs. Unfortunately on most occasions, security agencies have denied us access to our selected venues citing flimsy excuses.
Ironically, the same venues which we are denied, are used by candidate Museveni. Cases in point are campaign venues in Jinja, Mbale, etc. To date, we have been blocked from campaigning in a total of 27 districts by security agencies.
The other cardinal complaint we have made to you is the selective enforcement of COVID-19 Regulations/ SOPs! In all engagements with your Commission, we have complained about the selective application of the COVID-19 SOPs to me, while the same is applied to candidate Museveni and his supporters!
Whereas Museveni has talked tough about COVID-19 regulations to the point of intimidating you, he continues to violate the same with impunity In all cases, security agencies have blocked us from accessing centres through the main highways citing the need, not to disrupt business in those towns. However, in all his campaigns, candidate Museveni and his supporters have been allowed to use the same roads, and to hold processions and mass gatherings in the middle of the towns. For example, on 3rd and 4th December, candidate Museveni drove through processions of mobilized supporters in Iganga and Jinja cities respectively. His supporters went as far as holding music concerts which attracted hundreds of revellers! On 7th December, Museveni supporters gathered at High Street in Mbarara City under the watch of the police and the military. Upon arrival, Museveni drove through the gathered crowds while waving at them.
You may recall that on 7th November 2020, authorities in Mbarara city claimed that the city centre is out of bounds for all political activities and violently dispersed our supporters who attempted to gather along that street. On 12th December, Museveni’s supporters in Kabale Municipality held similar processions under police protection!
The behaviour has been replicated in all other districts where Museveni has gone for his campaigns, including Gulu, Kitgum, Moroto, Busia etc. On one hand, the incumbent claims that processions are not permitted on public roads. NRM supporters, however, hold processions on public roads without any restriction.
We have demanded to know from the Commission why none of Museveni’s gatherings and processions are blocked or his supporters dispersed. To date, the Commission has been evasive on the matter! Is the Commission telling Ugandans that Gen. Museveni as the incumbent and the commander-in-chief is only able to ensure that our gatherings are dispersed with brute force while his meetings go on unhindered?
We have paused this question to you, “Do COVID-19 regulations only apply to the opposition in this country?” Yet again, the Commission has been conspicuously silent about these obvious double standards wonder why for example, candidate Museveni has not been invited for a similar meeting that we are being invited for, yet he has been the leader in breaching the guidelines.
We have similarly complained about, (i) Extreme Violence and brutality by Security Agencies; (ii) Denial of Access to Media; (iii) deliberate targeting of media personnel covering our campaigns; (iv) Involvement of Public Servants and Military officials in Partisan Politics; (v) Use of Defamatory Language against me by Candidate Tibuhaburwa contrary to Section 23 (3) b of the Presidential Elections Act; (vi) Intimidation of private advertising companies not to carry our message on bill-boards: Use of Government Resources by Candidate Tibuhaburwa during his campaigns contrary to Section 27 of the Presidential Elections Act; (viii) Denial of Access to Accommodation facilities, etc.
The confrontations that you make reference to have been squarely making of the police and the military. Whenever security agencies have acted professionally and not disrupted our events, the meetings ve proceeded without incident!
Our repeated complaints to the Commission about many of these issues have not received any formal response. Further, all the meetings we have held and raised issues of police/ military brutality and illegal behaviour have always ended in false promises on your part to engage with the violations escalate! We have received no reprieve from the Commission in any way.
I have noted yet again the Commission’s invitation for a meeting Monday, 14th December. Unfortunately, I am unable to personally attend the meeting.
I will therefore be represented by a delegation led by Deputy President of the National Unity Platform for the central region, Hon. Mathias Mpuga.
The delegation has my full authority to represent me. It is my hope that the meeting will not be as futile as our previous engagements. Thank you.
KYAĞULANÝI SSENTAMU ROBERT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
cc. Speaker of Parliament
Chief of Defence Forces
Inspector-General of Police
Head and Members, Inter-religious Council of Uganda Chairperson,
Uganda Human Rights Commission
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Heads of Embassies, Delegations and High Commissions”