Friday February 19 2016

EC extends poll hours due to delays

Citizens who had turned up at St Peters Nursery

Citizens who had turned up at St Peters Nursery and Primary School Kyebando Nsumbi Polling Station throw ballot boxes and other material . PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

By Monitor Team

KAMPALA.

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.
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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%].

INCIDENTS

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.

Nakawa: In Nakawa like most of other areas, the biometric voter verification system failed to work which compelled the polling officials to resort to the rather slow manual process of checking the voters register.

Also in Nakawa Division, At MUBS (two polling stations), Kiswa Health Centre, Mbuya Church of Uganda P/S with 6 polling stations, Mbuya Hill Upper (two polling stations), Bugolobi Flats Block 1, Bugolobi Market, Naguru Community Centre (with four polling stations), Luzira Lake side near Port Bell among others counting started by 4.30PM despite the delayed starting of the voting process.

Wakiso: At Ssenge polling station, Ssisa in Wakiso District and in Kiira Municipality, voting had not started by 9am.

It was the same story at Bulenga and Ku Mwenda towns on Mityana road as youth were seen taking alcohol and threatening to demonstrate.

In Nansana Municipality, Entebbe, Mpala Zone, voting kicked off late.
“Here in Gayaza, we are getting disappointed and we know that this is deliberate because we woke up as early as 6am but we are here and have not yet started voting,” complained a one Muyanja.

Other people retired home early after they moved to several polling stations and could not find their names.

Entebbe: In Entebbe Municipality in the 10 polling centres, people turned up in large numbers to vote.
But at Katabi Sub-county, polling station, voting started off late as the biometric machine for the centre was misplaced.

At Banga-Nakiwogo ,one of the major polling stations,voting kicked off in time but in the areas of Bunono, Bufulu,and Tanda polling centres,voting materials were delayed.

In the areas of Lyamutundwe, Nkumba Play Ground, Mpala parish, voting materials had not arrived by midday while at Kitala Broadway, police were able to restore calm among the impatient crowd that had become unruly due to the delayed voting materials.

At Kajjansi Dispensary, voting was stalled after two individuals were arrested in a grey Benz with four pre-ticked ballot papers of Busiro South aspirant Peter Ssematimba.

In Busiro South, Nakigalala-Kajjansi, voting kicked off at 3pm but in Misooli-Kiggundu, people’s names were missing on the voters’ register.
In Ssembabule, the vice president of the Democratic Party, Mr Dennis Mukasa Mbidde blamed the Electoral Commission for confusing voters in Masaka and Sembabule districts, who did not vote as their names were misplaced.

Kira Municipality: The election in Kira Municipality was relatively with fewer complaints from the voters.

By 7:30am, voting was going on peacefully but on one line people had not yet started voting because the thumb machine meant to be for Kira police was taken to Buwate, hence the delay in voting.

At Kasokoso Beach polling station and Kireka Umeya, people were complaining of the slow polling officers which kept the line long and some people gave up voting because of too much sunshine and long lines.
At Bukesa church, voters complained of ballot boxes brought late.

Other polling stations like Priest land, Bweyogerere Health Center iii, Bukesa Primary, Namataba polling station voting was going on smoothly.
Kayunga: Voting at all polling stations in Kayunga District started at 7.30am and went on without any major hitch.

There were long queues at most polling stations, in Kayunga Town, Kayunga, Kitimbwa, Nazigo and Kangulumira sub-counties.

“During previous general elections, voter turn-up was not good but this time round it is overwhelmingly big. May be because it is a dry season and there is no much agricultural activities,” Ms Nakacwa said.
However by 1pm, most of the people had voted and the polling agents were idle.

The Kayunga RDC Ms Rose Birungi, said voting had gone on smoothly in all areas.

The Kayunga CIID boss, Mr Maliserino Mulema, said no one had been arrested in connection with any electoral –related offences. However, the Ntenjeru North MP, Mr Amos Lugoloobi, complained about the lack of indelible ink at some polling stations in Kayunga town. Mr Lugolobi said this could lead to double voting.

The district returning officer Ms Ruth Nakacwa, however, said they rectified this problem when they received the complaint.

Makindye: Mr Sam Eduku, the general secretary of the Uganda Christian Action Network, a voter from Migadde polling station in Makindye Division told Daily Monitor that denying some people of their voting rights was a recipe for disaster.

“My worry is that the more they delay, the more people are turning violent,” he observed.

Mr Ben Eyabu, another voter at St Paul Primary School in Makindye wondered whether the EC would compensate people’s lost time since voting ends at 4pm.

Compiled by Ephraim Kasozi, Amos Ngwomoya,Issa Aliga, Roland Nasasira, Lawrence Ogwal, Betty Ndagire, Juliet Kigongo, Paul Tajuba, Shabibah Nakirigya Paul Adude leilah Nalubega,Fred Muzaale,Ebber Aturinde,Roland Nasasira,Zurah Karungi& Isaac Ssejjombwe.

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