Fresh protests rock Rushenyi over delayed poll results

Friday September 18 2020
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Protesters burn tyres at Rwahi as they protest against delayed declaration of Ms Naome Kabasharira as the winner on Friday. Photos | Perez Rumanzi

By Perez Rumanzi

Police and the army were on Friday morning engaged in running battles with supporters of former Ntungamo Woman Member of Parliament Naome Kabasharira, who were protesting delays in declaring the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party flag bearer for Rushenyi parliamentary seat in Ntungamo District.

 Earlier, the NRM electoral commission indicated that Ms Kabasharira was leading in the race but following a vote recount Labour State minister Mwesigwa Rukutana was declared in the lead with 20 votes.

Protesters yesterday blocked the Ntungamo– Kabale road at Rwahi Township, bringing traffic to a standstill as they chanted anti- Tanga Odoi (the party EC chairperson) messages.

They also pelted stones, sticks, and burnt tyres in the middle of the road as they demanded their candidate to be declared the winner. 

For close to an hour, two police officers tried to engage them in peaceful resolution in vain until a  truckload of police officers and the army came into action.
 To disperse the surging protesters, police fired bullets and tear gas while the army used sticks to beat up and disperse those who had gathered at Rwahi. 

More than 300 vehicles, including buses and trailers, remained parked on the high way following the commotion. 
Mr Damian Twakire Nsonore, a resident of Kyoruhega Kayonza Sub County, says he was disappointed when Mr Odoi announced that Mr Rukutana was leading yet the Ntungamo electoral commission had earlier declared Ms Kabasharira winner.

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“We lined up at polling stations, defeated Rukutana in day light and Kabasharira was announced winner in Ntungamo but someone from Kampala has different results. This is what has been happening since 2011. We vote in Ntungamo but results are announced in Kampala,” Mr Nsonore said. 

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Past polls
In 2010 and 2015 party primaries, Mr Rukutana was also declared winner after contesting against city lawyer Justus Karuhanga. 

Ms Hadija Orishaba, a resident, said they will protest the results until Ms Kabasharira is declared the winner. 
“We have no problem with whatever they are doing. All we want is the person we voted for to be announced winner,” Ms Orishaba said. 

Residents of Nyakahita in Katungamo Parish,  Rugarama Sub-county, yesterday also protested saying they should not be dragged into the voting irregularities.

“How can people in Kampala say that we voted when they were not here? We are so angry and we want the party to organise a fresh election. We had lined up but because they saw Naome was leading, they brought the army and started beating us so we dispersed,” Mr Ben Mugyenyi, a resident Nyakahita Village, claims. 

On Thursday, police foiled a protest in Rubaare Town and arrested at least 10 people. 
The Rwizi region police spokesperson, Mr Samson Kasasira, confirmed the incident and arrests.  

Poll results
The Ntungamo NRM election officer, Ms Maria Mirembe Baitwa, on September 6, announced Ms Kabasharira as the winner of the Rushenyi County NRM party flag with 24,006 votes against  Mr Rukutana’s 23,966. Mr Bob Karabayi got 2,266 votes,  Nicholas Niwahereza had 1,202 votes, while Norman Kashereka got 346 votes. 

Mr Rukutana’s agents petitioned Mr Odoi, who has since started hearing their case and began re-tallying votes.
Rukutana’s camp first protested on Monday, September 6, over his arrest and challenged the results. 

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