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Activist urges Uganda to beef up security for refugees during elections

Author: Kelly Abale | Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Bidi Bidi Refugee settlement in Uganda. Credit | Courtesy

A civil society activist has called for greater protection of South Sudanese refugees as Ugandans ahead of the hotly contested election on January 14.

Millions of Ugandans will vote on Thursday in the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

“The refugee population in Uganda is in a panic with the assumption that –maybe –the election may turn violent,” the renown activist said.

There are fears over the possible outbreak of violence after the polls as many Ugandans desert urban centres for the villages.

Others are said to have crossed over into neighbouring countries, including South Sudan.

There are over 1.4 million refugees from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in camps -mostly in the northern districts.

There is a heavy deployment of security forces along the streets and several residential areas in many towns across Uganda.

The Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization, CEPO, called on the Uganda authorities to ensure the refugees are given extra protection.

Edmund Yakani said it is the responsibility of all political parties in Uganda to recognize refugees as non-partisan and to safeguard their rights.

“CEPO would like to urge Ugandan political parties and citizens to honour the principle of non-violent elections for the sake of maintaining peace and stability in Uganda since Uganda is hosting a bigger population of refugees from the region,” he appealed.

Ugandans are expected to choose between the incumbent Yoweri Museveni and 10 other candidates tomorrow.

The government has so far shut down social media platforms ahead of the vote.

President Museveni has cautioned the public against any form of protest and has deployed elite security forces to safeguard people and the voting process.

On Monday, the South Sudan ambassador to Uganda advised South Sudanese to stay home and stay safe during and after the elections.

Ambassador Simon Duku cautioned against unnecessary movements and promised to work with the authorities to secure areas highly populated with South Sudanese.

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