Friday February 26 2016

Bishops question credibility of EC poll results

Uganda Joint Christian Council National

Uganda Joint Christian Council National Election Steering Committee chairman Bishop Wilberforce Luwalira (R), with executive secretary Slyvestor Arinaitwe, address journalists at UJCC offices in Nsambya, Kampala, yesterday. PHOTO BY STEPHEN WANDERA 



Why were votes from affected polling stations not tallied by the Electoral Commission? Was there results’ transmission system failure in the affected district tally centres to the national tally centre in Namboole?

Was it a case of inefficiency and incompetence on the part of the returning officers? Or was this a calculated move aimed at misleading Ugandans as regards voting trends and outcome of the elections?

These were some of the unanswered questions asked by the country’s religious leaders yesterday as they presented a preliminary report on their findings about the February 18 presidential and parliamentary elections.

The statement
The five-page statement read by Namirembe Diocesan Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira, who is also the chairman Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) National Election Steering Committee, questioned why the EC released presidential election results excluding votes from some polling stations.

“We urge the EC to issue a comprehensive statement as to why votes from a large number of polling stations in Rukungiri, Jinja, Kampala, Kyenjonjo and other districts were not included in the results announced by the commission on February 20,” Bishop Luwalira said.

For instance, they cited Jinja District which had 399 polling stations but only 11 were computed by the commission in the final tally; Kyenjonjo contributed 60 polling stations out of 337 while Kampala had 1,176 polling stations declared out of 1,338 polling stations recorded with the commission.
The UJCC further questioned the credibility of what the commission released as results.

“We have noticed from the results of presidential elections published by the EC that in Otuke, 28,789 people voted for the presidential candidates and there were no invalid votes. UJCC personnel observed elections in a few polling stations in Otuke and we have reservations regarding the authenticity of the figure about invalid votes published by the commission,” Bishop Luwalira said.

He applauded districts like Buhweju, Napak, Kapchorwa, Mitooma and Kween for registering a 70 per cent voter turn out during the presidential elections but asked for an investigation into Amuru and Kampala where less than 50 per cent of voters cast their vote.
He, however, commended the eight presidential candidates for holding peaceful campaigns.

The UJCC also noted that there was no transparency in the parliamentary election results, citing in Gulu District where they alleged that the returning officer declared a winner without announcing the results scored by each candidate who contested for the seat.

EC response
Mr Jotham Taremwa, the Electoral Commission spokesperson, yesterday told Daily Monitor that some of the affected areas whose results were not included in the final tally were as a result of irregularities.

“In some stations the votes cast were more than the registered voters. Areas where there was violence and materials burnt, we never supplied more and those had their stations cancelled automatically,” Mr Taremwa said.

It was also observed that some people’s names were not found in the register. For example, 13 people in Rukungiri District and 10 voters from three polling stations in Kanungu District were turned down after their names could not be found on the voters’ roll.
The report further alleges that some election officials in Amolatar District were directing elderly people to vote for a particular presidential candidate, which sparked protests from the candidates’ agents.

A total of 863 observers and 696 poll watchers were deployed by the body across the country to contribute towards building a better future where the “will of the people is the basis of the authority to govern”.

Dr Badru Kiggundu, the Electoral Commission chairman announced incumbent President Museveni winner of the just concluded elections with 60.7 per cent victory, results which his closest challenger of the Forum for Democratic Change, Dr Kizza Besigye, has disputed.