Uganda gov’t tell diplomats to stay away from presidential polls issues=

The Ugandan government on Monday warned diplomats accredited to the east African country to desist from electioneering as the country’s presidential polls scheduled for Feb. 18 draw close.

Ofwono Opondo, the government spokesperson, told reporters that some envoys have been unduly meddling in the country’s internal politics and elections contrary to international norms and practices.

“Government takes strong exception to meddling and would like to caution those doing so to desist forthwith and in case there are matters of concern they should be addressed through the appropriate diplomatic channels,” Ofwono said without naming the countries involved.

He said diplomats must respect Uganda’s sovereignty in accordance with international norms and practices.

Several foreign election observers are in the country to observer the much anticipated elections that will see the incumbent Yoweri Museveni tussle it out with two main rivals, Amama Mbabazi former Prime Minister and Kizza Besigye of the leading opposition party Forum for Democratic Change.

The election observers include among others those from the European Union, Commonwealth, African Union and other regional organizations.

The government warning comes at a time when the political temperature in the country is rising ahead of the polls.

Government cautioned the presidential candidates against forming militia groups intended to what it called destabilizing the election process.

“Government takes this opportunity to strongly warn those few, perhaps disoriented elements not to take the law into their own hands with the hope of either disrupting the elections or post-election atmosphere,” Ofwono said.

At least 16 million voters are expected to cast their votes on Feb. 18, according to the country’s Independent Electoral Commission.

Meanwhile Gen. Kale Kayihura, the police chief has assured European Union ambassadors that the police will remain impartial in the election processes.

“All parties should rest assured that the Uganda Police Force is committed to act in a non-partisan way in order to ensure equal rights of all candidates,” said Kayihura, according to a police statement on Monday.

He said police officers who have acted inappropriately have been punished and moved from their work stations.

The meeting with the diplomats came after press reports quoted Kayihura as saying that crime preventers would be armed in case of war. The police however denied the reports.



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