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The Ugandan military and police have stepped up security in and around the capital Kampala ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections slated for this Thursday.

In the city, military men are moving on foot and patrolling the streets while others are stationed on some streets known to be violence hotspots. “The campaign period is coming to an end and we are now proceeding to the next level of voting.

We have now upgraded our security and deployed police officers who are being supported by the army,” Patrick Onyango, Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson, told Xinhua in an interview on Monday.

“Security is key to protection of every person’s right to vote and maintain confidence in a safe, secure and accurate election,” Onyango said.

There are also more motorized police and military patrols unlike before the election period in the east African country.

“We now have a multi-layered security response of patrol groups on foot, motorcycles and patrol vehicles,” said Onyango. “We have practiced active drills on several scenarios including violent riots, radical youth groups, cyber harassment, clashes between rival groups etc.

The teams will respond to any emergency,” he added. Heads of security agencies last Friday warned all those intending to cause chaos during and after the election that they would suffer consequences.

Adolf Mwesige, minister of defense and veteran affairs, said political candidates must accept the choice of the people as declared by the Electoral Commission.

“The only channel you can use to oppose the results is the courts of law and not violence. This is not the first time we are having elections,” Mwesige said.

Foreign missions here have already alerted their citizens to take extra care during and after the elections, warning of possible election violence.

“Police routinely use force, including tear gas, rubber bullets, and live ammunition, to disperse protests. Demonstrations throughout Uganda are likely to remain common and may escalate to violence,” U.S. embassy here cautioned Americans, urging them to avoid demonstrations and crowds.

The presidential campaign period, which started in early November and ends on Jan. 12, has been characterized with violent protests with some being fatal.

The arrest of opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi on Nov. 18 sparked off violent protests in some parts of the country leading to the killing of 54 people by the security agencies. Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni while speaking about the fatal riot regretted some of the deaths promised to institute an investigation.

He said some of the deaths were as a result of protestors attacking security personnel and also destroying private property.

The presidential race is largely between Museveni, who has been in power for over 30 years and Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, a music star turned politician. There are also nine other candidates in the presidential race.

Museveni and security agencies accuse Bobi Wine of being under the influence of foreign agents to destabilize the country’s peace and security while Bobi says the heavy security deployment is meant to intimidate his supporters.

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