Last week, at least 46 people were killed during protests around the country following the arrest of National Unity Platform party presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, who was set to campaign in Luuka District. Many more were injured, not to mention the property that was destroyed.
Kyagulanyi, who was later produced in court, was accused of flouting Covid-19 guidelines, specifically holding mass rallies in violation of Electoral Commission guidelines.
The Forum for Democratic Change party presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat was also arrested and later freed. These arrests, especially Kyagulanyi’s, saw the country descend into unrest and bloodshed with his supporters demanding his release.
It is even more unfortunate that among those who died that day where people who were going about their business and were not part of the protests. Several journalists who were reporting the events were also attacked by both goons and security forces.
It is now undeniably obvious that the build-up to the 2021 polls is increasingly getting heated with the campaign trail being characterised by teargas, bullets, arrests and death.
It is, therefore, important that every individual be vigilant about personal safety while attending political meetings, or even simply going about non-political business in any public space.
Even as we come out to show support for the presidential candidates of our choice, beware that a fairly harmless gathering can quickly turn into a riotous one with bullets and teargas blurring the skyline.
It is, therefore, prudent for everyone to be more vigilant than ever. Unless one intends to attend these meetings, endeavour to have prior information of the venues that have scheduled such gatherings.
Information on where the various candidates are scheduled to be on particular days are usually shared in the media. That way one will not be caught unaware but will be able to plan their movement more cautiously.
It is also imprudent to get caught up in political excitement and forget that Covid-19 is still raging. Coronavirus is still a real threat as evidenced by the number of infections and deaths that continue to be registered. Uganda has now lost more than 165 Ugandans to the virus.
Needless to say, masks must be properly won at meetings. While political leaders can propel this by imploring their supporters to wear their masks correctly, security forces should also fall in line by acting as propagators of peace and safety not violence and terror. Let us all be responsible for our personal safety.
Finally, the stringent conditions stated for the scientific political campaigns are not only meant to be followed by the presidential candidates but by everyone else and should be correctly interpreted by security personnel without partisan tendencies.