Youth in Uganda under the coalition of the Platform for Youth Inclusion in Politics (PYIP) are calling for the immediate release of all individuals arrested during a raid on the National Unity Platform (NUP) head offices on Wednesday.
At least 82 people were arrested during the joint security operation comprising of police and the military from NUP offices in Kamokya and several shops in different parts of Kampala where NUP branding materials including T-shirts and red berets resembling those used by the military were allegedly recovered.
According to NUP officials, during the operation, a number of their supporters were left injured, property destroyed and some confiscated including CCTV cameras, party uniforms and nomination signatures for the presidential candidate among others.
The arrested NUP members were today presented before the Magistrates Court at City Hall and charged with offences of disobedience of lawful orders in regard to meetings and possession of military uniforms and remanded to prison until October 23 for bail application.
Addressing a press conference in Kampala today, the youth called security forces in Uganda to respect the right to freedom of association, assembly and expression of all persons regardless of among others one’s political opinion.
Job Kiija the Director Innovation for Democratic Engagement and Action (idea) while presenting the youths’ statement on the incident condemned the use of excessive force by security operatives on unarmed civilians.
“Security forces should adopt a dialogue approach in the interest of peaceful elections to seek out more civilized ways of contacting the leadership of any political party or actors even when acting on intelligence rather than using force as if they were a counterforce against security as this undermines the spirit of the political organizations act and elections.” Said Kiija
Kiija also said the Electoral Commission (EC) needs to work with security forces to return all the confiscated campaign materials and investigate all officers involved in the raids.
“The EC needs to re-assume its mandate of managing all election related activities. The EC therefore needs to reassure Ugandans that they are committed to providing a fair playing field for all Ugandans by condemning the actions of the security forces and continuously sensitizing the security forces on their roles and mandate in elections.” He added
He further urged the young people across the country to denounce election violence by state and non-state actors and desist from engaging in any acts of violence in the upcoming elections.
“We should all use our demographic strength to peacefully participate in the next elections and make our voices sound.” Said Kiija
The coalition pledged to work with legal aid institutions to support the victims of election violence and pursue a legal approach to ensuring election justice for all private prosecutions of errant security officials involved in the violence against Ugandans.
The Platform for Youth Inclusion in Politics (PYIP) comprises organizations like Faraja Africa Foundation, Action Aid Uganda, Advance Africa Foundation, Youth Coalition for Electoral Democracy and Uganda Youth Network among many others.