Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has come out to remind politicians and other Ugandans engaged in the campaign season that they have to preserve peace and unity and not fan the flames of violence division in the country.
Rugunda made the remarks while meeting journalists this week to warn that some political players are making dangerous inflammatory statements with the view to divide rather than unite people.
Rugunda said: “As we have said in the past, 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.”
Rugunda added that although the presidential campaigns have largely remained peaceful, some politicians have deviated from the civil trend and are now fanning sectarianism.
“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.”
He warned: “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.
Perhaps referring to FDC Presidential flag bearer Dr. Kizza Besigye’s message of defiance, Rugunda said: “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 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 provocation and violent confrontations, starting on polling day until the swearing ceremony in case they lose the elections.
Campaigns 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.”
But Rugunda’s message comes after different influential groups including religious leaders under their umbrella body the Inter-Religious council of Uganda had warned of the potential dangers of militias by different groups including by the government.
A number of Ugandans have suspected htat the creation of the so-called crime-preventers as a part of the Uganda Police Force is meant to disrupt free and fair elections next month.