Thursday February 18 2016

Voting delays as Electoral Commission apologises

Wabigalo residents, in Makindye Division wait for p

Wabigalo residents, in Makindye Division wait for polling materials. The materials were not delivered at the polling station by 10 am. Photo by Jacqueline Laker.  

By Monitor team

Nationwide: By 8 am, most of the polling stations in South division of Fort Portal municipality in Kabarole district voting had already commenced.

So far voting is going on peacefully and at every polling station there is security deployment. Most shops in town are closed. At Nyaburara polling station, the turn up is good and voting commenced at 7:15 am. They received 700 ballot papers both presidential and parliamentary but the number of registered voters is 687.

Link Bus Park polling station also received 450 ballot papers with the number of registered voters at 426. Voting commenced at 7:25am.

In Hoima, long queues have been seen at various polling stations. The usually busy Hoima town is quiet with most businesses  closed.

There are also very few vehicles moving. The office of the district returning officer, located in Kijungu suburb of Hoima town is being guarded by police but it is accessible by members of the public who want services.

Meanwhile in Masindi, voting has delayed in some parts of the district due to late delivery of polling materials.

By 8:40 am, no single material had been delivered in Pakanyi and Kimengo sub counties.

The Masindi district vice chairperson Mr Melekizedek Kanaginagi Ateenyi wants the electoral commission to compensate the time lost by extending the voting hours beyond the official closing time of 4pm.

“We shall not just look on when we are being denied our voting right,” he said.

The delays prompted the Electoral Commission boss Eng. Badru Kiggundu to apologise.

"We appeal to Ugandans who have been inconvenienced to remain patients and tolerant. All those who will be at the polling station by 4 pm will vote," he said.

He attributed the delays mainly in Kampala and Wakiso districts to their transporters who failed to pick the materials from the EC's stores on time.

One of the candidates for a Member of Parliament for Buruli county Stephen Kabindi said that he had not cast his vote at Nyinezara polling centre in Kijunjubwa Parish, Kimengo Sub County because the voting materials had not been delivered.

“It’s now 8.30 am and there is no sign to show that voting is going to start. I blame the electoral commission for this mess,” he said.

However, the Masindi district returning officer Mr Ibrahim Kizindo attributed the problem to delayed delivery of some voting materials from Kampala.

“We received some materials very late and even one of our lorries was involved in an accident leading to delays in delivering materials in time,” he said.

Mr Kizindo however said that voting has started well in most parts of the district.

In Masindi municipality, voting exercise started at 8am at most of the poling centers.

 As reports of late delivery of polling materials is being reported in several parts of the country,  voting in Masaka ,Rakai , Kalungu, Mpigi and Butambala,Mubende, and Mityana  districts  has finally kicked off  . Voters were seen queuing as early as 7 am but by 8 am voting had not yet started in many places.

In Lugazi Municipality, voting had not yet started by 9am .The EC area supervisor, Mr Meddie Ssekajigo attributed this to failure by their officials to locate the polling stations where the materials could be delivered.

“Some polling stations are in areas which are not easily accessible leading to some delays but we have sorted that out and voting is abou to commence,” he said  

At St. Mary’s P/S polling station in Mubende Municipality, voting started at 9:00am. Ms Juliet Nakatte , the presiding officer, said officials waited for police constables and candidates’ agents before starting the exercise.  

By 9:15 am, only 10 people had voted out of 382 registered voters .Earlier , supporters of Tonny Ssemuli and Bashir Ssempa –both candidates for Mubende Municipality MP seat were engaged in a fierce fight with each camp accusing the other of bribing voters.

The fracas led to the arrest of 10 people.

In Masaka , Police are  holding five supporters of  Ms Maria Kabanda ,who is vying for  the Masaka District Woman MP seat. She is accused of engaging in voter bribery.

According to Mr Ibin Ssenkumbi, the southern region police spokesperson, the suspects were arrested in Kyanamukaaka Sub -County distributing soap and sugar to voters.

Four people have also been arrested in Rakai and Bukomansimbi Districts respectively over election  related violence ,according to Mr Ssenkumbi.