EC extends poll hours due to delays
Posted Friday, February 19 2016 at 04:00
Unusual. Voting at many polling stations in Kampala and Wakiso districts starts after 1pm.
Voting across most of Kampala and Wakiso districts started as late as 3pm yesterday as voting materials arrived way later than the scheduled opening of polling at 7am, forcing the Electoral Commission [EC] to extend the deadline from 4pm to 7pm.
Across polling stations in Kampala and Wakiso, voters started queuing as early as 6am, heeding to advice by the electoral body and Opposition politicians to flock to polling stations promptly and beat the 4pm deadline.
Forum for Democratic Change flag bearer Kizza Besigye has been rallying voters to cast their ballot by mid-day and keep vigil to ensure votes are accurately tallied and declared.
However, the patience of most voters quickly wore out as a litany of glitches ranging from delays by the EC to deliver the voting materials on time to dispatching materials tampered with conspire to send the voting in the two districts into disarray.
At Wabigalo Community Hall Polling Station, Makindye East, just 3Kms from the EC Headquarters on Jinja Road, no voting materials had been delivered by 1pm triggering riotous scenes that were only calmed down by the arrival of Military Police officers. When voting materials arrived at 2:30pm, chaos ensued after some ballot boxes appeared to be tampered with. The station has 1,546 registered voters.
At Greenhill Academy Polling Station, voters rioted and blocked Mbogo Road after voting materials were not delivered for the 657 voters by 1pm.
At Kasengeje Primary School Polling Station in Busiro East, Wakiso District, voting was also severely delayed by the late delivery of materials forcing most of the 2,318 voters there to walk away in protest.
There were also mix-ups where voting materials were dispatched to wrong polling stations such as Bungokho South in Mbale District which received votes meant for the 328 voters at Remand Prison Polling Station in Luzira, Kampala.
Rattled by the bungled-up work they did, the EC had initially rejected demands to extend the deadline but later pushed it to evening after President Museveni joined the voices demanding for an extension.
Asked about the delays in voting in Kampala and Wakiso hours after casting his voting at Karo High School in Kiruhura District, President Museveni said he had been updated about the situation and called for an extension in voting time.
“I heard there were delays in Kampala and that some fellows were trying to distribute money but they are being arrested,”Mr Museveni said.
Mr Crispy Kaheru, the coordinator of the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), that has been monitoring the election warned that such delays may lead to disenfranchisement as voters walk away from polling stations.
“It will disenfranchise a number of people who turned up early anticipating that all will be well after planning their days. The chances of people returning after leaving are low,”Mr Kaheru said.
With more than 1.9 million voters, the Opposition had marked out Kampala and Wakiso districts as units where the fiercest battles would be fought if they were to stand any chances against Mr Museveni. Kampala and Wakiso boast of 1,180,347 and 749,476 voters respectively-making them the leading populous voting units in the country.
In the 2011 polls, Dr Besigye polled 229,527[46.86%] votes to Mr Museveni’s 225,698[46.08%] in Kampala while in Wakiso, Mr Museveni polled 170,890[49.26%] against Dr Besigye’s 145,985[42.08%].
Kyadondo: In Kyadondo East constituency, Wakiso District, the voting materials were delivered by 9am but voting started about 30 minutes later due to missing items.