President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who is also the National Chairman of NRM party has appealed for calm following the recent national wide NRM party primaries that saw violence and intimidations in some areas.
“I appeal to you Ugandans to be calm, write your complaints and points, we shall act on them,” He said.
The President made the remarks this afternoon today (Monday) at the NRM party headquarters on plot 13 Kyadondo in Kampala while flagging off motorcycles for the NRM Sub-county chairpersons that will be used in mobilizing for the party.
Speaking shortly after flagging off the motorcycles, President Museveni warned all those that were involved in violence and intimidation of voters that the long arm of the law will catch up with them and assured the people that this will not happen again.
“The ones who are threatening people with violence will go to jail. I want to assure everybody that what happened the other day will never happen again,” Museveni added.
President Museveni said that election violence of any kind including vote rigging is a criminal act that nullifies the sovereignty of the people.
“We who are in NRM have been fighting this ever since 1961. The riggings of 1961 and 1962 took two forms i.e. intimidation and vandalism in many parts of Uganda especially in Buganda including cutting of coffee trees for opponents, as well as massive rigging by multiple voting, ballot stuffing, altering results and gerrymandering constituencies,” He said.
Mr. Museveni said that after regaining control in 1986, they started on a long journey of combatting rigging by combining electoral constituencies with the existing administrative units’ e.g counties and sub-counties in addition to getting rid of enclosed polling booths and instead put the ballot boxes in the open.
“We also removed the multiple ballot boxes and ballot papers and introduced a single ballot box and the single ballot paper which got rid of the practice of destroying the ballot paper of the opponent by pouring acid in the box or switching labels on the boxes,” Museveni added.
These measures, he says, could have eliminated rigging and fraud but the two problems of corruption by the electoral officials and lack of vigilance by many citizens have made it difficult or even impossible.
“For example, the NRM supporters many of whom are farmers, business people etc. have no time to go and check on those registers. This allows the crooks to manipulate the lists,” he said.
The President also warned the police and GISOs to stop the problem of violence, threats, intimidation and bribes. The only way to close this gap, the President says is to introduce the digital verification of the voters using their biometric-data so that the voter only register once and if he or she tries to register a second time, the central memory of the system will detect it and block it.
“The corrupt team that was in the Electoral commission refused to procure this system. It is however, being procured now. This will end this sad story of the anti-democratic forces,” Museveni said.
President Museveni said that those who beat people like in Bukono, and Minister Rukutana who pulled a gun on a rival’s supporter are already in jail and those on run will be arrested and face the law.
“They will be fully accountable with robust charges of assault, attempted murder, murder etc and those who altered results will go to jail on forgery, fraud, subversion.” he said.
On the issue of mobilizing for the party, the President said that the other time, they mobilized 80,000 bicycles for the NRM village chairpersons and now, he was flagging off motorcycles for all the NRM sub-county chairperson, adding that what is remaining is the vehicles for the NRM district chairpersons.
“It is my pleasure to be here today to flag off these motorcycles to our sub-country chairpersons” President Museveni said.
The NRM party Secretary General, Hon. Justine Kasule Lumumba said that the first batch of motorcycles flagged off today are 400 in number but others are being assembled and will be delivered to the beneficiaries as and when they are ready.
SG Lumumba said the motorcycles will be used by the NRM sub-county chairpersons to mobilize support for the NRM in their respective sub-counties. She said that recently, the party mobilized 80,000 bicycles which are being distributed to 67,000 village chairpersons and the remaining bicycles will be given to the NRM parish chairpersons.
She congratulated members who won the recently concluded primaries and those that participated and warned that whoever misbehaved will be brought to book.
The secretary general appealed to the president to deal strongly with impunity and bring to book all those that misbehaved during the NRM primaries.