POLITICS: The media is rightfully flooded with messages calling upon Ugandans to maintain peace during the 2021 general elections.

Again it’s agreeable that such messages must constantly be sent to the citizens of the beloved pearl of Africa following a short but largely chaotic two month campaign period.

The events of November 18th starting with the arrest of presidential hopefuls Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine and Patrick Amuriat culminating into the brutal death of over 50 citizens will haunt the country way beyond the 2021 polls.

This event that stretched for more than two days was no isolated case, ugly and dramatic scenes were witnessed right from the nomination day on November 3rd.

Mr Amuriat reached the Kyambogo nomination grounds without shoes after an altercation with Police, he didn’t equally enjoy the comfort of his car but was forcefully driven in a police vehicle.

For Mr Kyagulanyi, the violent breakage of his car windows and subsequent arrest in the plain eye of the cameras was enough signal to envisage what awaited in the days to come.

The defiant candidates marched on against the Ministry of health guidelines set to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the police responded with even more brutal force. The result has been the constant ugly scenes reported on TV and social media.

Therefore it’s understandable why the messages calling for peaceful election have flooded our radios, TVs and online platforms.

However, as the messages of a peaceful election are delivered across board, one needs to be reminded that elections are about choices that for Uganda’s case will put leaders into office for the next five years.

It’s rather sad that due to the everyday chaos, not many issues have been discussed, more often than seen before, a lot of airtime on media platforms have been used to discuss arrests, deaths, brutality and the credibility of the elections under the weight of COVID-19 pandemic.

Such ‘distractions’ leaves the ordinary citizen with less information on the candidate's manifestos and the issues they intend to address if successful.

Is it therefore any surprise that a lot of hate speech, blackmail, tribal sentiments, and other political propaganda is being traded across the political divide in the absence of any substantial discussion of ‘issues’?

Surely the time is up, and any call to conduct massive voter sensitization or education on the essence of an election would be too little too late as the countdown enters the final days.

Mr Hadad sMr Hadad Salim (2nd R) and MP Beranrd Atiku pose for a photo after their nominations, Atiku is NRM leaning independent while Hadad represnets NUP

But for once even as a reader of this article, think about the next five years, think about how a few months from now, we shall live together as Ugandans irrespective of who you voted or didn’t vote for.

The current hate and propaganda will have no space, we will need to move on with our lives regardless of whether your candidate is the president or not.

That is the biggest reason why you need to maintain peace in the 2021 elections, which peace must first start from your heart to sober you up in making an informed choice and later to the community.

A sober heart will think twice before making a choice, will look at all the angles before ticking that ballot box or putting that ink.

A sober peaceful heart sees beyond the current teargas and the sympathy its likely to draw for the opposition candidates the same equally looks beyond the continuous wave of glamorous project commissioning whose timing seem to tactically favour the incumbent.

As the country gears up for this much anticipated elections that pits a 24 year old student, a 75-year general, a ghetto pop star, a pastor, and a journalist in that mix, its only prudent that all peace loving Ugandans call on the security forces to exercise maximum vigilance and restraint as Ugandans make their choices.

But peace without a proper choice in an election is only half correct, therefore take time and listen to the issues to make an informed choice come January 14th and beyond, that’s how you complete the election puzzle.