Uganda elections: US issues security alert to its citizens

Kampala – The United States government has issued a security warning to US citizens living in Uganda or anyone intending on travelling to the east African nation ahead of the February 18 presidential elections, a report says, reports the Daily Monitor.

Local elections are set to take place between February 24 and March 10.

The warning was issued through the passports and international travel website by the US authorities.

The statement read in part: "The State Department recommends US citizens maintain a high level of security awareness leading up to, during, and following the election period. US citizens should avoid political rallies, polling centers, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind as gatherings intended to be peaceful can become confrontational and turn violent."

The statement said, while US citizens may not be targeted, they should still exercise caution and monitor the news for any updates.

This comes a few days after the US Department of State Bureau of Public Affairs spokesperson John Kirby, expressed concern over the intimidation and arrest of journalists which he said had created an atmosphere of fear.

Last week, the Ugandan opposition also expressed fears of violence during the elections after reports indicated police brutality during rallies.

President Yoweri Museveni, who is the flag bearer for the ruling National Resistance Movement party, has been in power since 1986 and is expected to face his toughest opposition yet against the Forum for Democratic Change's (FDC), Kizza Besigye and Go Forward candidate Amama Mbabazi.

A newly-released opinion poll released last week predicted that Museveni will win the upcoming presidential election with 51% of the votes, while Besigye, was in second position with 32%, and Mbabazi with 12%.