The army has maintained that it will support law enforcement agencies to ensure that defiance isn’t tolerated in the electoral process.
Responding to FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye’s “campaign of defiance”, UPDF spokesman Paddy Ankunda said in a text message that “citizens contesting for elective political offices must do so within the law.”
Besigye had used a news conference in Kyegegwa on Monday to urge the Chief of Defence Forces Gen Katumba Wamala to apologise to him for suggesting that his Power 10 electoral strategy was a plot to raise a militia ahead of the February 2016 elections.
Besigye, who vowed to press ahead with his “campaign of defiance”, said Gen Katumba was wrong to liken his Power 10 to a militia.
“Power 10 means the citizenry who have decided to say that we want to liberate our power from the captors who wield guns; now what do you do to such people?” Besigye said.
However, when contacted by The Observer, Lt Col Ankunda amplified the CDF’s message, maintaining that security agencies “will deal firmly with anyone who incites the public to violence.” There is nothing to apologise about, Ankunda said.
In a detailed security assessment revealed to the media last week, Gen Katumba said Besigye’s defiance message, including his Power 10 plan, is a threat to national security.
“We have started getting yet-to-be-confirmed intelligence that there are threats, which are being given by some people that if the elections get away, we shall deal with you,” Katumba said.
“Now, I would like to warn whoever is doing that, we as security agents are not going to allow that kind of intimidation.”
Speaking to The Observer by telephone yesterday, Jotham Taremwa, the Electoral Commission spokesman, moved to calm Besigye’s fears about vote rigging.
While campaigning in Mubende on Sunday, Besigye told a gathering: “We have been scoring a goal over the last [election] games but the referee [EC] has consistently nullified it.”
Besigye added: “But when we score this time round and he nullifies our goal, we shall not leave the playground; we shall walk out with the referee because unlike in the past, it’s no longer a joke.”
In his response, Taremwa said yesterday that he doesn’t see any basis for Besigye’s fear.
“Besigye knows well our polling process and its openness. The counting of votes, the announcement of results at the polling stations and declaration of the winner are done openly,” Taremwa said.
In the past, Besigye has been to court twice challenging the 2001 and 2006 election results. He said the elections had been marred by rigging and other malpractices.
But in both cases, the Supreme court ruled that the malpractices were not so significant as to affect the final outcome and thus warrant nullification of the result.
Taremwa said: “So, there shouldn’t be any worry because there is no plan to rig the elections. We shall declare whoever wins and we shall not declare anybody a winner when he/she has lost.”