Uganda has bought anti-riot gear ahead of a Feb. 18 election in a move which police say will bolster security during voting but which critics say aims to intimidate opponents of President Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking to extend his 30-year rule. Museveni’s two major rivals, Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi, a former prime minister and secretary general of the ruling party, have both attracted large crowds and analysts say Museveni faces his toughest challenge yet. Critics have accused him of using violence by security personnel to intimidate opposition supporters, while police have drawn public ire for frequently blocking opposition gatherings or using teargas and sometimes live ammunition to disperse them.
Police spokeswoman Polly Namaye said they had bought a consignment of equipment to help them secure the poll. “In the process of ensuring that we secure the election … we have had to purchase equipment that we believe will help us in transportation, in crowd control and public order management,” Namaye said.
Namaye did not give specific details of the equipment that had been bought, but said some had already arrived.
In recent days pictures of water cannon trucks and armored trucks parked at Kenya’s Mombasa seaport and with “Uganda Police” emblazoned on them have circulated on social media.