NOVEMBER 24, 2010: Keep the Race Calm, Peaceful

Keep the Race Calm, Peaceful

SOURCE: The Observer

At the beginning of the election campaigns, we appealed for calm and peace.

We are glad that one month into the campaigns, our prayer has largely been heard. Ugandans have gotten used to violent campaigns, and so many people can't believe that all is going smoothly, at least up to this point.

It is not difficult to see where we're coming from. The 2001 election campaign experienced so much violence that an inquiry was established by Parliament thereafter to investigate why this was so.

Unfortunately, the subsequent report was not taken seriously. Then in 2005, there was the Kizza Besigye arrest and the resulting riots in Kampala. In addition, there was the Ramathan Magara shooting incident at Bulange, Mengo, which resulted in some deaths.

Now that the 2010/11 electoral cycle is here, Ugandans are holding their breath, hoping for the best but preparing for the worst. It is early days indeed, but the signs are not bad at all. Apart from one or two minor incidents, the campaigns have so far been calm and peaceful.

All candidates have been able to access all corners of Uganda without major hindrances. The Police and the Electoral Commission appear to have acted professionally thus far. If only we can keep it up for the remaining two months, we would hold peaceful elections, and then move on.

But the few incidents that happened cannot be brushed aside. Fortunately, the Kawempe LC-III chairman candidate who went missing and was feared dead, has been found alive.

The case of Inter-Party Cooperation spokesman, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, who says he was attacked by goons within the alliance, resulting in a nasty accident last week, should be properly investigated.

There have also been reports of candidates changing their campaign schedules and venues arbitrarily, which has led to some clashes.

Such incidents, though relatively minor, can degenerate into greater skirmishes and violence, especially if not properly addressed.

If the campaigns continue to pass off peacefully, what will be left is for Election Day to end the same way and then, perhaps more critically, for the losers to accept defeat and the winners to exercise magnanimity.

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