Monday February 22 2016

1,700 untallied polling stations were Opposition strongholds

Electoral Commission chairman Badru Kiggundu

Electoral Commission chairman Badru Kiggundu (front left) consults with his officials during the release of results of the presidential elections at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, at the weekend. PHOTO BY RACHEL MABALA 

By Yasiin Mugerwa, Stephen Kafeero and Emmanuel Ainebyoona

Kampala.

The presidential election results, which were not tallied by the Electoral Commission (EC) when it declared President Museveni winner at the weekend, were for polling stations mainly from Opposition strongholds where the runner up, Dr Kizza Besigye had won.

In his re-election victory, President Museveni, 71, defeated seven candidates, including Dr Besigye, his four-time presidential challenger, in at least 98 districts to win a fifth elective term in office.

The results, however, excluded tallies from 1,787 polling stations, particularly from Opposition strongholds, with a total of 1,051,720 voters, representing 6.88 per cent of the total number of registered voters. This is more than the votes obtained by the four fringe candidates combined.

Some of the polling stations whose full results the EC said it had not received by the time the chairman, Dr Badru Kiggundu, declared Mr Museveni the winner, include Dr Besigye’s home district of Rukungiri. Only three out of 276 polling stations in Rukungiri was tallied by the EC, representing about 0.66 per cent of registered voters there.

“In Jinja District, 11 out of 399 polling stations (2.75 per cent) were tallied while in Kampala, 1,176 out of 1,338 polling stations (87.89 per cent) were considered. In Kyenjojo District, EC tallied only 60 out of 337 polling stations and this accounts for 17.08 per cent of the polling stations.”

Dr Besigye of the main Opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), however, defeated Mr Museveni of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party in 14 districts, including the capital Kampala. Dr Besigye also won Kasese, Wakiso, Hoima, Gulu, Amuru, Lira, Masaka and Mbale districts.

Dr Besigye carried Kampala City, with 65.75 per cent against Mr Museveni’s 31.09 per cent ─ his worst performance in the country’s 112 districts. Dr Besigye’s worst performance was in Amudat District in the Karamoja sub-region, where he only managed 2.01 per cent against Mr Museveni’s 97.35 per cent. However, Dr Kiggundu explained that even if Dr Besigye had won all the excluded results, he couldn’t have beaten Mr Museveni.

Explaining what happened, EC spokesperson Jotham Taremwa said: “Some of our district returning officers succumbed to local MPs, they were pressured by MPs whom we voted for on the same day with the president, to first announce their results and those were two offices (directly elected MPs and District Woman MP). So in that process, there was definitely an inevitable delay to release presidential results.”

In 2011 elections, Mr Museveni won in 107 out of 112 districts. Besigye won in only four districts ─ Serere, Soroti, Kaberamaido and Kampala. The Democratic Party’s Norbert Mao took Gulu.

With a record of 37 per cent tally in 2006 elections, Dr Besigye defeated Mr Museveni in 20 of the 69 districts then, winning most of the battleground areas in Acholi, Lango and Teso sub-regions. However, in 2011 elections, Mr Museveni turned the tables on Dr Besigye, recapturing at least 17 of the 20 districts previously under the FDC strongman.

Analysts weigh in
Dr Livingstone Sewanyana, the chairperson of the Citizens Election Observer Network Uganda (CEON-U), said the electoral process did not meet the minimum standards of any reasonable election.

“We are very categorical; the electoral process did not meet the minimum standards. The results did not reflect the will of the people. In particular, we question the release of the results in an aggregated form,” Dr Sewanyana said.

“Our expectation was that the EC would release the results per polling station so that agents and observers can compare,” he added.

He singled out “voter bribery, an unlevelled playing field, late delivery of voting materials, intimidation and harassment”, among others, as things that discredited the exercise.

According to the final results released by Dr Kiggundu at the weekend, Mr Museveni received 5,617,503 votes (60.75 per cent) and Dr Besigye emerged second with 3,270,290 votes (35.37 per cent) of the valid votes cast between February 18 and19.

The final results, however, consigned former prime minister Amama Mbabazi to a fringe candidates’ corner in an apparent two-horse race. The Go Forward candidate was distant third, with a paltry 132, 574 votes (1.4 per cent) followed by Mr Abed Bwanika of People’s Development Party with 86,075 (0.93 per cent).

Mr Mbabazi did not win in any of the 112 districts and lost his Kanungu home district to Mr Museveni and Dr Besigye. His only best performance was in Nwoya District in Acholi sub-region, where he scored 20.92 per cent against Museveni’s 41.64 per cent and Dr Besigye’s 28.70 per cent.

Overall, Independent presidential candidate Venansius Baryamureeba garnered 51,086 (0.55 per cent), independent candidate Faith Maureen Waluube Kyalya got 40,598 (0.44 per cent), Maj Gen Benon Biraaro of the Farmer’s Party of Uganda got 24,675 (0.2 per cent) and independent candidate Elton John Mabirizi 23,762 (0.26 per cent). In 2011, EC exploited what the coordinator of the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda, Mr Crispy Kaheru, called the loophole in the law to exclude results from 117 polling stations.

Voter turnout
Out of 15,277,198 registered voters, only 9,701,738 voted, representing 63.50 per cent turnout. This means 5,575,460 voters stayed away from the elections. In other words, due to voter apathy in the country, Mr Museveni’s win with 5,617,503 votes in the Thursday election represents only 36.77 per cent of all the registered voters. Dr Besigye’s 3,270,290 votes translate into only 21.41 per cent while Mr Mbabazi’s 132, 574 votes would be 0.87 per cent.

The number of valid votes stood at 9,246, 563 and 455,175 invalid, representing 4.69 per cent of the total number of votes cast.
Mr Kaheru, however, blamed the low voter turnout on “electoral fraud” and cited assisted voting and ballot stuffing in Wakiso, Kampala, Mbarara and Kiruhura districts.

Urban districts with higher unemployment and poverty generally favoured Dr Besigye, and Mr Museveni did better in rural areas where voters significantly helped his overall vote count. On the campaign trail, Mr Museveni has been selling peace and stability to rural voters and this, according to analysts, explains his performance upcountry.