Wednesday February 17 2016

NRM plans to stuff ballots, says Mbabazi

Mr Amama Mbabazi addresses the press at his

Mr Amama Mbabazi addresses the press at his home in Kololo, Kampala, yesterday. Photos BY Rachel Mabala 

By Isaac Imaka

Kampala. Go Forward presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi started his last day of the campaigns by claiming his team has got wind of NRM’s plan to stuff ballots on voting day.
Addressing the media at his home in Kololo, Mr Mbabazi said ballot papers to be used in the illegal exercise have already been dispatched to different polling stations.

He made the claim while castigating the Electoral Commission for decreeing that there will be no phones or cameras allowed at polling stations and that voters will only be allowed to follow the process at a distance of 100 metres.
“So the idea that you want to prevent people from catching that hard evidence is ridiculous and we reject it. One hundred metres is too far for people to notice anything. Why should they remain there? I will encourage my supporters to resist that unlawful proclamation by the electoral commission,” he said.
Asked about the extent of the problem, Mr Mbabazi said: “I know the plans they have. As to whether they will be executed is what we are now working on.”

Ever since the EC passed the degree banning phones and cameras at polling stations, political parties and civil society organisations have come out condemning the move, saying it defeats the essence of a free and fair election.
Mr Mbabazi said the law only gives the electoral body power to act outside the law only if they seek to cure a situation that threatens to derail the voting process.

“Cameras and smart phones cannot cause such a threat,” he said.
Talking about his campaigns, Mr Mbabazi said it had been tough for him but was always energised by the love and enthusiasm of the people in the areas he visited.
“We are very confident that the people of Uganda will vote for change. There is no doubt that everywhere, people want change. NRM is no exception because the horrid conditions under which our people live affect everyone, including NRM members so I know for sure they too want change. So we expect a strong vote in favour of change,” he said.
He, however, said his worry about the management of the elections has not been helped by statements coming from the electoral body.

“Given a free hand, those commissioners can conduct free and fair elections but with the pressure from the President, I doubt,” he said.

However, the Uganda Media Centre executive director, Mr Ofwono Opondo, challenged Mr Mbabazi to produce the sample ballot papers.

“That is below Amama Mbabazi, if it is indeed true (that he said it), we challenge him to bring them to the open, report to police, call a press conference and show sample ballot papers and where they were printed and say so and so had them. That is a cry of a loser that he is, anyway,” said Mr Opondo.
Condemning Tuesday’s blocking of FDC’s Kizza Besigye from conducting his rallies and the teargasing of his supporters, Mr Mbabazi said it is a scare tactic to keep people away from voting.

“In the last election, 42 per cent of the registered voters did not turn up and this translated into 5.6 million votes and Museveni got 5.4 million. So more people abstained from voting than those who voted for Museveni. So clearly, there is a calculation that abstention may favour some people,” Mr Mbabazi said.

“So there is a deliberate move to create a fear in the mind of the voter that if this (police brutality against Opposition) can happen on the eve of the election, what would happen on the voting day,” he said.
He added, “So I wanted to make a clear statement that we condemn this and we call on the State not to be tempted to do those things. They are not helpful. We just want a peaceful election because what we have been advocating for is a peaceful change of power.”