Thursday September 14 2017

Low voter turnout, ballot-stuffing reported in Iganga woman MP election

FDC candidate Ms Mariam Nantale receives a

FDC candidate Ms Mariam Nantale receives a ballot paper from an electoral official at Nakigo Sub county N-z polling station where she cast her vote. PHOTO BY TAUSI NAKATO 



Iganga District woman parliamentary by- election kicked off Thursday with low turnout of voters and reports of ballot-stuffing.
Most of the polling stations visited by this reporter opened at 7am, but few voters had turned up for the voting exercise by midday.
At Lusaga polling station in Nvulanku Sub County only 25 people cast their vote by midday.

At Iganga Municipality Health Centre III A-M polling station, the presiding officer Mr Emmanuel Musana said by 12:28PM, only 140 had turned up, out of the 721 voters who registered to vote at that centre.
According to Electoral Commission spokesperson, Mr Jotham Taremwa, the process is going on smoothly with 254,450 voters expected to cast their ballot at 382 polling centres in 14 Sub Counties to elect their woman representative.

Biometric machines are being used at all the polling stations to prevent possible fraud.
The candidates in the race are NRM’s Brenda Asinde, FDC’s Mariam Nantale Naigaga and independents; Asha Babirye, Olivia Kwagala and Aziza Kakerewe.

So far, Ms Asinde and Ms Nantale have cast their vote. Ms Asinde voted at Buseyi Mosque polling station NAM at 9:52am while Ms Nantale at Nakigo Sub County N-Z polling station at 10:38 pm
Ms Asinde while addressing journalists shortly after casting her vote said she expected the election to be free and fair.
She promised to address the high unemployment rates in her constituency if voted.

NRM's Asinde Brenda  casts her vote at Buseyi

NRM's Asinde Brenda casts her vote at Buseyi mosque polling station. PHOTO BY TAUSI NAKATO

“If I’m elected into power, I will tackle the issues affecting people, especially water by making sure that every village has clean water to prevent diseases like cholera and unemployment among the youth and women by skilling them so that they can be independent,’’ she said.

Meanwhile, FDC’s Nantala immediately after casting her vote told reporters that she had recived information about NRM supporters moving to different polling stations with pre-ticked ballot papers.

“ We caught the former Iganga Vice chairperson Mr Ezira Gabula with pre ticked ballot papers at his home in Nambale but we have normalized the situation,’’ she said.
However, the Busoga East Police spokesperson Mr James Mubi refuted allegations as baseless saying they have not so arrested any person on accusations of vote rigging or violence.

“The situation is moving on smoothly at all polling stations. No vote rigging has been reported and those making allegations don’t have evidence or facts. we need complainants to bring facts because all the candidates will start accusing each other of ballot stuffing but we can’t accept this if they don’t have evidence,’’Mr Mubi said.

Mr Crispin Kaheru, the coordinator of Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) told this reporter eralier that the process was peaceful.

"Six hours into the vote; things look calm. This however, seems different from what transpired during the campains," he said.
The seat fell vacant after the death of the then Iganga woman MP Kaudha Grace Hailat in July this year.