Voting shunned after MP poll is cancelled

Friday February 19 2016

Voters line up at Bulakati playground polling

Voters line up at Bulakati playground polling station in Lukaya Town Council, Kalungu District. PHOTO by SADAT MBOGO. 

By Monitor Team

CENTRAL REGION

Scores of voters in Mawogola County in Sembabule District boycotted the elections after the sudden cancellation of the voting for their directly elected Member of Parliament.

The Electoral Commission called off the voting in 102 polling stations of the newly-created Mawogola County after noticing a mix-up in the particulars of the candidates on the ballot papers.

Mr Joseph Ssekabiito, the NRM flag bearer was given a symbol of a hoe, which is for the Democratic Party candidate Vincent SSerwanga whose symbol was changed to a bus.

The Electoral Commission apologised for the mess and urged voters to continue with the elections of the president and the district Woman MP, but majority of the electorates abandoned the polling stations in protest. They later converged at homes of their respective parliamentary candidates.

The confusion affected the voter turnout for the best part of the day as most polling officials, especially in Mateete Town Council, could be seen napping on their desks.

Moses Oketcho, a teacher and a resident, told Daily Monitor at Bamuwanga polling station that they were extremely disappointed with EC and could not continue with the exercise.

“I have totally lost trust in this electoral process. You cannot deny us a chance to elect a candidate who is closer to us and you tell us to elect one who is far away,” Mr Oketcho said.

Mr Rashid Muwonge, another affected voter at Mateete Central Zone A polling station, described the decision by the EC to cancel the voting as a ploy to deny them their right to vote.

Mr Latif Ngozi, the Sembabule District returning officer, apologised to the voters.

“I am trying to explain this to the electorate because these ballot papers are printed from outside the country. It could have been a typing error because these people are not conversant with our local names, but we own the mistake and apologise for it,” Mr Ngozi told Daily Monitor at Mateete Town Council offices as he pinned up a public notice announcing the cancellation of the voting.

Apparently, five of the candidates in the race, Joseph Ssakabiito (NRM); Abdu Mukasa (FDC), Vincent Serwanga (DP), Vincent Kimbugwe (Go Forward) and Brian Kambazza (Independent) convened a crisis meeting in the afternoon to discuss the matter. Another independent candidate Charles Muwanguzi was not present at the meeting.

Still in Sembabule, voting at Kidandali polling station in Rugusulu Sub-county got interrupted for close to five hours after residents rioted, accusing polling officials of allowing a group of people to stuff ballots in the box in favour of an NRM candidate. Police deployed to avert chaos. The FDC agent Haruna Kayondo withdrew from the station citing lack of transparency in the exercise.

In Lyantonde, apart from Mr Museveni, other presidential candidates lacked agents at most of the polling stations Daily Monitor visited.

However, in Bukukula parish in Kalungu District, Mr Museveni also lacked agents forcing the area MP and state minister for Agriculture Vincent Ssempijja to allow his agents to oversee the President’s votes.

In Butambala District, 24 people were arrested and detained at Kibibi Police Station for alleged assault of voters on the election eve.
According to the district police CIID officer, Mr Sulaiman Mukooli, the suspects were travelling in a van and truck carrying sticks.
Both vehicles were taken to the police station.

At Nkozi B polling station, a voter Muhammad Nsubuga, had a voter’s location slip but the biometric voter verification machine rejected his name and the presiding officer, Ms Hasifah Namugambe, blocked him from voting.

In Rakai, apart from Museveni and Besigye, other presidential candidates had no agents at most polling stations in the district.
Voting at various polling stations started late partly because of time taken to sensitise voters on what to do. At Kasaali polling station, a polling assistant was blocked from helping the elderly to vote, forcing most of the elderly to quit the queue and return home.

Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Martins E Ssekweyama, Fahad Jjingo, Shamim Nakawooya , Cleophas Tukamarwa, Henry Lubulwa Sadat Mbogo & Gertrude Mutyaba

[email protected]

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