The parties were reacting to claims that President Yoweri Museveni’s opponents in next month polls had set up militia to fight their rivals.
The government is trying to tarnish us for sympathy votes
“I do not believe any candidate is recruiting militias. The government is trying to tarnish us for sympathy votes,” opposition parliamentary candidate, James Olam said.
On Monday, government said it had received information that some presidential candidates were recruiting militia to cause havoc should they fail to win the elections.
“Government has established that some candidates, under the guise of training agents to protect their votes, are raising semi-militia groups under different code names,” Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda claimed.
“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.”
But various campaign officials representing a number of candidates have come out guns blazing to defend what they say is the recruitment of party faithfuls to monitor the electoral process and guard against rigging.
Leader of opposition in parliament and top member of main opposition FDC party, Wafula Oguttu said while “it is true we have been recruiting people […] they are meant to protect votes not fighting the government. We started with 10 people but now millions have been recruited.”
Uganda Police senior investigations officer Albert Okello said “nothing prevents the candidates from employing their security men or task forces”.
Okello suggested that the announcement could have been triggered by an altercation that took place three weeks ago where supporters of one of the candidates and those of Museveni attacked each other leaving several people injured.
He also said that a separate case saw another candidate’s security detail engage policemen in a fight.
Okello said although the government, through its intelligence service, had established that opposition candidates and their supporters were planning to cause chaos, an opposition leader had said they were not planning to cause chaos.
He said “no opposition leader will accept that they have militias” and the government had a “duty to protect the people against possible chaos”.
Meanwhile, Rugunda conceded that the presidential campaigns had largely remained peaceful, as the candidates traversed the country to seek votes in an intense campaign season.
Uganda’s presidential and parliamentary polls will take place on 18 February, with long time ruler Musveni standing for a fifth term in office. He is widely tipped to win.
Understand Africa's tomorrow... today
We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.View subscription options