EC chief Byabakama warns youth against electoral violence

By Moisés Agaba

Justice Simon Byabakama Mugenyi, Chairman of the Uganda Electoral Commission, has implored Ugandan youth to avoid acts of violence and political hate speech during the election season and which has recently proliferated on social media emphasizing that such behavior It can lead to violence and undermine the country’s democracy.

“Do not misuse social networks, but try to use their online presence for educational purposes. Use your data packets productively to conduct research and expand your knowledge, but refrain from spreading hate speech and respect different opinions” . Justice Byabakama said.

Justice Byabakama delivered his remarks as a keynote speaker on Monday during a public lecture organized by the Electoral Commission for Tertiary Institutions in Kabale District, held at Kabale University which was attended by students from various universities and higher education institutions in the Kabale district and its neighboring districts.

Justice Byabakama condemned the participation of youth in electoral violence and stated that the vulnerability of youth to manipulation by interested persons who incite violence for personal gain while avoiding direct participation and stated that people who incite young people to participate in electoral violence are selfish. and they have no interest in the peace and stability of the country. Urging young people to avoid and reject such influences.

“Young people make up the largest percentage of participants in election campaigns and are often exploited by people who do not have the best interests of the country at heart,” he said.

In his speech, Justice Byabakama reminded the youth of their civic responsibilities, referring to Article 59 of the Constitution of Uganda. He stressed that every citizen over 18 years of age has the right and duty to vote and participate in public elections and referendums. “It is crucial for you to work for a united, stable, peaceful and prosperous Uganda, committed to socio-economic transformation,” he said.

Encouraging active participation at all levels of leadership, Justice Byabakama emphasized the importance of local governance. He urged the youth not only to focus on the presidential and parliamentary elections but also to take up leadership roles at the sub-county, parish and village levels, which are essential for effective governance.

Justice Byabakama’s call to action seeks to empower youth to play a constructive role in shaping Uganda’s future, promoting peace and ensuring democratic processes are respected, saying that engaging in bribery and violence against voters undermines the quest for free and fair elections, adding that blaming the Commission is disingenuous.

“If you engage in voter bribery, you are doing a disservice to the pursuit of free and fair elections. So, let’s join hands. If the people of Uganda want free, fair and credible elections, each of us must recognize the role we are required to play and perform according to the books and the law. “I can assure you that it is very possible to have peaceful and credible elections in this country, without violence and without anything that contaminates a free and fair election.”

He stated that people who incite youth to participate in electoral violence are selfish and have no interest in the peace and stability of the country.

Furthermore, he mentioned that the Electoral Commission plans to engage youth through voter education programs to combat electoral violence by 2026.