NRM's Ariko declared winner of Soroti East parliamentary by-election

The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM)'s Herbert Edmund Ariko gestures after casting his vote during Soroti East Division parliamentary by-election on July 28, 2022. PHOTO/ COURTESY 

The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate, Mr Herbert Edmund Ariko has been declared as the duly elected Member of Parliament for Soroti East Division following Thursday’s hotly contested by-election.
Ariko got 9,407 votes while his closest contender, Mr Moses Attan of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) got 8,771 votes.

Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) candidate Pascal Amuriat garnered 115 votes in the Thursday polls that were characterized by high presence of the armed forces - police and the army- and massive arrests of FDC members, including the party president, Mr Patrick Amuriat.

There were also reports of voter bribery the day before and ballot stuffing on polling day which saw four suspects arrested. 
Soroti East returning officer, Ms Christine Eyu said the total number of valid votes cast for candidates were 18,293 with 107 spoilt ballot papers.

"Having added up the number of votes cast as recorded on each declaration of results form in accordance with Section 53 of the Parliamentary Elections Act, I declare that Herbert Ariko Edmund who has obtained the largest number of votes to be the elected candidate for Soroti East Division constituency," Ms Eyu said Thursday evening. 

FDC's Moses Attan

Before declaration of the results, the Electoral Commission chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama said the MP-elect will have to do more to unite the electorate in Soroti East Division "following what happened today."

On polling day,  voting at Omalera mango tree polling station was suspended for hours after some people allegedly ferried from Kumi and Bukedea districts were found stuffing ballots.

The night before, police and other government vehicles with concealed license plates were reportedly seen on the streets of Soroti city raising concern among opposition members.

During campaigns, both NRM and FDC bigwigs pitched camp in Soroti East to drum up support for their respective candidates.

President Museveni who is the NRM national chairman, Vice President Jessica Alupo and Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, among other top government officials and NRM senior officials were in the constituency canvassing support for Mr Ariko.

On the other hand, FDC president Patrick Amuriat, four-time presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye and National Unity Platform (NUP) principal and former presidential candidate, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi were also in the constituency to drum up support for Mr Attan.

The seat fell vacant after Court of Appeal nullified Mr Attan's victory on grounds that it was illegal for the Electoral Commission (EC) to reconstitute the boundaries of Soroti City East Constituency by removing the parishes of Aloet and Opilyai and placing them under Soroti City West Constituency.