Drama as west polls are suspended

Tuesday August 31 2010

By Daily Monitor Team

Western Uganda

By close of the yesterday more elections were suspended in Buliisa, Masindi Municipality Kibaale and Kyenjojo districts due to lack of sufficient voting materials and late arrival of materials.

Amidst heavy police deployment in Buliisa, the supporters of the Buliisa County MP Stephen Mukitale Biraahwa and his rival Dr Godfrey Kamugisha disagreed over the voters register that should be used. The supporters of Mr Biraahwa reportedly wanted the NRM Yellow Book to be used while those of Kamugisha wanted a duplicate register made by LCI chairpersons used.

Police intervened and quelled the disputes. The conflicting camps agreed to postpone the polls to a later date until their differences are sorted out by the NRM Electoral Commission. The mid-western regional police spokesperson, Ms Zurah Ganyana, said police intercepted three vehicles suspected to have been ferrying voters outside the district to cast votes in Buliisa. “We held over 60 people but released them after interrogation,” Ms Ganyana said.

In Masindi, the Information minister, Ms Kabakumba Masiko, announced the postponement of elections in Masindi Municipality but the rest of the areas in the district voted. The voters petitioned Ms Masiko as the district NRM chairperson to intervene after they protested the delay in arrival of election materials. Ballots of the Masindi municipal mayoral aspirants were also reportedly missing. In Hoima, the two contestants for the Hoima Municipality parliamentary seat have disputed the election results even before votes are counted.

Hoima Municipality
Dr Patrick Mwesigwa Isingoma and Mr Richard Baguma are vying for the Hoima municipality parliamentary seat with the 2nd Deputy Premier and Public Service Minister, Mr Henry Muganwa Kajura.

“I protest the results because there are massive irregularities, ” Mr Baguma told journalists at the NRM office. He said he will petition the NRM EC to annul the poll outcome and organise fresh, free and fair elections. “I have directed all my agents not to sign on the declaration forms,” he said. Dr Isingoma also claimed that there was stuffing of ballot boxes. However, the Hoima District NRM Administrator, Mr Erifaz Kiiza Rujumba, dismissed the claims.

In Kibaale District, elections were also suspended due to the delay of election materials. “The election materials, especially the ballot papers and registers, were delivered after midday and it is difficult for us to dispatch and distribute them in the 33 lower local governments in the district,” said Mr Solomon Bigirwa, the Kibaale District NRM registrar. He said voting will take place today. Other hitches were missing registers and ballot papers for some villages while other voters were not on the registers.

In Buyanja County all the registers were missing while some villages had only nine people appearing yet the voters were supposed to be over 100. By 4:30 pm some election materials had not been delivered. Some candidates resolved to pitch camp at the NRM offices to stop election malpractice.

Police were deployed at the NRM offices to prevent vote rigging as the registrars prepare ballot papers for the entire district. “I shall not leave this place until morning (Tuesday) when the election materials are dispatched to the various villages,” said Mr Barnabus Tinkasimire, the Buyaga County MP. Mr Tinkasimire said; “When these people are left here alone to sort the ballot papers; it is easier for them to rig the votes since I have ever experienced it in 2006.”

The Internal Affairs State Minister, Mr Matia Kasaija, who is the Buyanja County area MP, said: “I regret how the NRM Secretariat has led to all this saga we are in. I contacted the Secretary General Amama Mbabazi and he assured me all elections materials will be ready but it is vice vasa” said Mr Kasaija.

Elections for Kasese and Bundibugyo districts and Fort Portal Municipality were also suspended due to lack of sufficient voting materials and late arrival of materials. “Elections in Fort Portal Municipality have been suspended but voting in the rest of the district (Kabarole) will continue but their results will be held until Fort Portal municipality votes and all results tallied,” said Kabarole NRM chairman, Mr Godfrey Nyakahuma Nyakahuma, on Monday.

“Elections for Bundibugyo have been suspended and another day will be announced because our registers were misallocated to Kyenjojo district and have arrived here at 12pm (Monday) and voting could not take off because some area registers were missing,” said Ms Afusa Kengonzi, an official in the NRM office in Bundibugyo.

By 11am most polling stations in the region had not received election materials. In Fort Portal town, Nyaburaara A polling station was the first to open to voters by 11:20am but voting could not take off because the LC 4 ballots were missing, which irked the voters to cause commotion.

At other stations in town, there was no voting by mid- day. “These elections were supposed to have been postponed because the exercise was not properly arranged and voters at all polling stations are confused and don’t know what to do they are going back home, they are hungry, they did not vote in Fort Portal town at most polling stations,” said one of the voters, Mr Bright John.

Kabarole NRM chairman, Mr Godfrey Nyakahuma said on Sunday that Mr Muhamad Isingoma, the LC I chairman for Kagote B village in Fort Portal Town, was arrested after he was found plucking some papers in the NRM Yellow book (Voter roll). He was later released by police on bond.

In Kamwenge, voting started late in most parts of district by 12pm due to missing ballot papers. At Kamwenge Catholic social hall and East Rwenzori Diocesan grounds in Kamwenge Town Council, voters reported by 7am at the station but by 12pm had not yet cast their votes. At Nshorora polling station in Kamwenge Town Council, the NRM electoral officials decided to use photocopies of the ballot papers used in the last structures elections after the original ballot papers went missing.