What you need to know:
- NUP accuses the ruling NRM of dishing out between Shs1,000 and Shs20,000 to voters as well as plotting to pre-tick ballots.
A s the people of Omoro County go to the polls today to elect their area Member of Parliament, the National Unity Platform (NUP) party has expressed fears over an alleged plot by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) to bribe voters and also rig the by-election.
Yesterday afternoon, NUP officials led by the party’s secretary-general, Mr Lewis Rubongoya, and the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, made the claims during a press conference in Gulu City.
Mr Mpuuga alleged that the NRM has since Monday been bribing voters, adding that they had also got wind of a plot to pre-tick ballots.
“We are aware you are preparing to ballot stuff in Akidi, Lakwana, and in some parts of Lakwaya. We are watching and are going to deal with it. We are talking about pre-ticked ballot papers just like the NRM did in the Kayunga by-election,” Mr Mpuuga said.
“We are going to supervise the voting exercise and also the Electoral Commission (EC). If anybody is found disorganising this election, then it will be the connivance of the Electoral Commission and the ruling party, and we are ready for that,” he added.
Mr Mpuuga claimed that between Monday and Tuesday when President Museveni arrived in the district to campaign for the NRM candidate, Mr Andrew Ojok Oulanyah, voters were being paid between Shs1,000 and Shs20,000.
Mr Simon Toolit Akecha, the NUP candidate, alleged that the NRM candidate has plans to ferry voters from other areas outside Omoro to vote at polling stations in Acet Town Council, Lokot, and Binya.
“There is also information that we have got about voter bribery. Families are being given Shs20,000, per household, and some have already contacted me testifying about receiving the money,” he said.
Mr Toolit claimed their supporters are being intimidated and beaten.
We could not get a comment from the NRM by press time.
The Opposition also expressed fear that they may not be able to cover all the 292 villages due to intimidation.
When contacted, Mr David Ongom Mudong, the Aswa River Region spokesman, said security had been beefed up in the area to counter incidents of vote-rigging and violence.
He, however, dismissed the intimidation claims by security forces as baseless.
“Our work is to ensure law and order and to ensure transparency in tomorrow’s exercise, but not to terrorise supporters of any party. Perhaps, they want to raise sympathy votes by making such claims,” Mr Ongom said.
The seat fell vacant following the death of former Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah on March 20.
Other candidates in the race are Forum for Democratic Change’s Justine Odong, Alliance for National
Transformation’s Mr Oscar Kiiza, independents Terrence Odonga, and Jimmy Walter Onen.
EC set for polls
Mr Paul Bukenya, the EC spokesperson, said all the election materials and equipment had been delivered, and that all was set for the exercise. “We have everything in place now, we delivered polling kits and associated materials and equipment which are all in the field now,” Mr Bukenya said.
He said the election officials and supervisors have been deployed to the respective polling stations and additional backup of supervisors from Kampala have been brought to help those on the ground.
According to the EC, each polling station will be manned by a police constable with a baton, and polling officials will use biometric machines.
The EC also said only candidates’ agents will be allowed at the polling station, while those who have finished voting will keep a distance of 100 metres away from the polling area.
Earlier on, Mr Moses Kagona, the district returning officer, declined to reveal the total number of registered voters eligible for the exercise.