KAMPALA/WAKISO/ BUGIRI/MBALE/IGANGA/KAMULI/MBARARA/SEMBABULE/JINJA/ISINGIRO- Local Council elections countrywide on Tuesday were marred by low turnout and cases of names missing from the register, which in sparked off violent scenes. In most areas, voting started as late as midday.
In several parts of Kampala, many voters turned rowdy after finding their names missing from the register. In Wandegeya, Nateete, Pioneer Mall and Naguru, police had to fire teargas to calm down supporters who turned violent after finding their names missing from the register. In several villages, violence broke out amid accusation of some candidates ferrying voters from other villages.
In Makamba zone, Rubaga Division, voters boycotted the election, accusing one of the aspirants, Singh Katongole, of filling the voters register with people who were not area residents. The residents claimed that Mr Katongole, who is also the former Rubaga North MP, connived with the registrar and filled up the voters’ register with names of people he wanted to vote for him yet they are not residents in the zone.
In Wakiso District, the situation was not any better. Voting in most areas in the district started at around 12pm while in others the exercise had to be cancelled or postponed over allegations of rigging and other malpractices. In Nansana Municipality, voting at many polling centers was cancelled after some voters claimed local leaders were doctoring the voters’ register in favour of certain candidates.
In areas like Naluvule, Kawoko, Chonga, Namusera, Kitemu, Buwaali and Mukono-Nsangi, voting was suspended over irregularities but it later took place.
In Kitala Village, Katabi Town Council, Entebbe Municipality, the incumbent chairman, Mr Lameka Kasujja, abandoned the voting exercise, accusing polling officials of deliberately skipping his supporters’ names while reading from the register. Eventually, his rival, Mr Godfrey Mugerwa Sentongo, was declared winner. Kasujja vowed to petition the Electoral Commission. Hajjat Sarah Bukirwa, the district returning officer, said voting delayed in most areas because many candidates and their supporters disorganized the voting exercise.
In Masaka District, over 100 voters in Market cell were shocked when they discovered that their names were missing from the voters’ register. Only 65 residents were allowed to access entry into Lions Nursery School where elections were conducted. Residents led by the incumbent chairperson Mr Elias Muyindi accused one of the contenders, Mr Fred Tumwebaze, of conniving with the presiding officer and security organs to lock out his supporters.
In Sembabule, voting was peaceful save for a few skirmishes over missing names in the register. In Ntuusi sub-county, Zabrone Kweyamba , a contestant, was jailed at Ntuusi Police station after he ran away with the voter register upon realising that no voter had lined behind him. Voters ran after him and caught him when had torn the register into pieces. Voters ran after him and caught him he had torn in it in parts. In Matete Town council, voting only took place in five out of 14 villages after voters turned rowdy, forcing officials to cancel the exercise.
In the eastern region, the exercise was marred by violence. In Tororo district, former Malaba Town Council chairperson George Alfred Obore and nine others were arrested over allegations of planning to disrupt the LC polls. The district police Commander, Mr Paul Rutaagira confirmed the arrests.
In Soroti, the Electoral Commission cancelled voting in four villages after some voters caused commotion over missing names in the register. Mr John Paul Osinde, the District Returning Officer, said elections of Wire Cell in Nakatunya ward -Western division were cancelled over the matter.
In Kamuli District, voting at Kamuli Post office, Industrial Area, Busekiti, Ikumbya, Irongo Bugabo Bulonda Buyende and Kiwamba Buyende did not take place after voters said the registers bore names of non-residents. At Kasambira Central Polling Station in Kamuli, police had to engage in running battles with voters who grabbed the voters’ registers and tore them after finding their names missing.
In Jinja, voting in Aldina Village was cancelled after some voters claimed people from outside the village had been registered to vote.
In Mbale district, most polling stations had names of voters missing in the register. In North road, Duka, Clock Tower and Mission cell in Mbale Town, voters chased away election officials and declared their candidates winners after they found their names missing from the register.The assistant district registrar, Mr Robert Mugaba, confirmed that some villages had refused to participate in the elections over missing names in the register but he said overall, the voting went on well.
In Iganga, there was chaos in different parts of the district over irregularities. In Nabidonga Ward in Iganga municipal council, police fired live bullets in the air to disperse supporters of two candidates Ahmed Waiswa [NRM] and Abu Kakerew [independent] who were fighting after finding some of their names missing from the register. The two candidates accused each other of conniving with the election officials to delete names of their supporters and this sparked off the war. Armed with sticks and stones, the two parties fought until police intervened.
The district returning officer, Mercy Ataho, said there was commotion in many areas as locals demanded to use National ID cards. She mentioned the affected sub-counties as Nakigo, Nambale, Bulamagi, Buyanga and Iganga central division, where voting was cancelled as a result of chaos.
In Bugiri, the electoral commission cancelled elections in six villages in Bugiri Municipality after supporters of the NRM party and opposition engaged in fighting over allegations of rigging and missing names in the register. The district registrar, Christine Kunihira Fiona, said the five villages that was closed include Kamwokya, Bwole, Muyenga, Busanzi, Musongola located in Western division, and Katawo located in Eastern division.
In western Uganda, the situation was not any different. In Ntungamo District, voting started as late as 11pm and there were also incidents of people missing from the register. Most notable was Kajara County MP Micheal Timuzigu Kamugisha, whose name was not in the register despite turning up to vote in Rujumo village, Kagarama town council. Some voters did not turn up to vote, reportedly due to the lining up method as some people did not want openly show their sides. In Mpama village, Eastern division, Ntungamo municipality, voting was abandoned following disagreement over the voter’s register. At Modern SS polling station, the FDC candidate vowed to petition the electoral commission for declaring a winner without counting votes from both sides. Matsiko Joseph (FDC) who lost to Christopher Musinguzi Kabira (NRM) in Cell 3 noted that the electoral officials considered on side of NRM. Musinguzi got 193 votes and Matsiko supporters did not line up behind their candidate citing that there were students of Modern SS and Team University study center. However, the district registrar, Mr Robert Baine, said the exercise was peaceful.
In Isingiro District, the situation was not any different, with many voters’ names missing in the register. Many people were missing in voter register. In Rwabaganga village, Ngarama sub county Mr Eliab Kwiragira (Independent) defeated the NRM candidate, Mr Petero Shabaruhanga. Kwiragira polled 175 votes while Shabaruhanga got 142 votes.
In Mbarara, some candidates were also missing from the register. In Ntungamo village, Kashare Sub County, the NRM flag bearer, Swaibu Ssekati, was missing in the register and could not be voted for, allowing his opponent, Goddy Karegyeya, to take the seat.
In Kanungu, many people were not in register but were allowed to vote. There was no violence and there was less security presence. Robert Turyahabwe, who was competing for Mashega seat, was disqualified by the presiding officer Vianny Twesigomwe because of being a civil servant. He works as office attendant at the district. His opponent Herbert Arinaitwe sailed through unopposed.