Kampala, Uganda – A convoy of navy tanks menacingly passes by way of the capital now and again in a present of power.
Uganda Individuals’s Defence Power troopers, police and the native defence unit comprised of civilians skilled and armed by the federal government to assist beef up safety have additionally been patrolling town on foot, primarily in areas perceived to be opposition strongholds.
These are photographs which have change into aware of Ugandans throughout any election season. However the deployment in numerous city cities throughout the nation is far heavier earlier than Thursday’s polls.
About 18 million voters are anticipated to elect a president and members of parliament.
The polls have been clouded by uncertainty and already marred by violence.
Robert Kyagulanyi, 38, a musician-turned-politician well-liked as Bobi Wine, is amongst 10 candidates difficult President Yoweri Museveni’s 35 years in energy.
Bobi Wine has mobilised many younger individuals who had been beforehand not concerned in politics to come back out to vote. He and his supporters have suffered the brunt of Uganda’s infamous safety forces which were accused by human rights teams of utilizing extreme power to interrupt up opposition rallies and demonstrations through the marketing campaign interval.
Bobi Wine has been arrested a number of instances, usually prevented from attending his rallies, and a few of his election staff members have killed, disappeared or detained.
He instructed Al Jazeera he’s residing in fixed hazard.
“That’s the reason I’ve been carrying a flak jacket and ballistic helmet all by way of the marketing campaign. I’ve survived gunshots 3 times. The police and navy have fired reside bullets at my automobile, flattening the tyres, and one time a bullet was shot straight within the windscreen,” he mentioned.
Hajara Nakito, a garments vendor in one among Kampala’s suburbs, described an environment of pressure and worry.
She instructed Al Jazeera how her 15-year-old son Amos Segawa was killed by troopers throughout protests in November 2020.
He had accompanied her to the household’s store on the town when information of Bobi Wine’s arrest prompted a riot. Her son was hit by two bullets as they hurried dwelling. As many as 53 different folks died in that protest.
Ofwono Opondo, a authorities spokesman, admitted that generally safety forces have acted out of flip and non-protesters equivalent to Segawa have been caught within the crossfire, however he largely justified the crackdown saying a lot of the opposition rallies have been violent and demonstrators have usually attacked police.
The election can be being held in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
In response to the Ministry of Well being, Uganda has recorded fewer than 40,000 infections and about 300 deaths from the illness.
Don Wanyama, the president’s press secretary, blamed some opposition leaders for flouting COVID-19 restrictions, equivalent to conserving gatherings at beneath 200 folks.
“What safety has executed on this election amidst loads of provocation from the opposition is to attempt to cease what could possibly be a well being disaster,” he mentioned.
“All political gamers agreed there would make certain minimal requirements and guidelines to play by. Then now we have two candidates who come and say we’re going to defy the whole lot.
“These weren’t rallies they had been holding. They had been simply holding tremendous spreader occasions.”
A number of political analysts have accused the federal government of weaponising the illness to crack down on opponents of the president, who has additionally accused some international diplomats, media, the LGBTQ group and now Fb of colluding with Bobi Wine particularly “to divert the need of the folks”.
Fb lately suspended dozens of accounts of people related to the ruling Nationwide Resistance Motion occasion and the ministry of data.
Uganda’s communications fee in flip directed web service suppliers to dam social media and different messaging platforms.
Museveni addressed the nation on Tuesday evening and mentioned what Fb did was unacceptable.
Many within the capital equivalent to Hajara Nakito say it’s safer to be in rural areas throughout these troublesome instances. Reported instances of violence in a lot of the countryside have been few.
So for now Nakito is taking her daughter to their dwelling village in central Uganda. She additionally doesn’t intend to vote in an election she blames for the loss of life of her son.