KAMPALA: The chairman of the Electoral commission Justice Simon Byabakama has asked votes in the area to stop any form of violence that would accrue in the Thursday election that police presence should not be felt or seen to arrest anyone in the elections.
Addressing a press conference graced by key stakeholders at the Rukungiri district council hall on Wednesday, he said police is only invited to the elections when there is violence in the process. However that elections that have been seen to be more peaceful attract no police action to arrest a anyone.
“We have been in some elections like in West Nile where the police is deemed irrelevant as they sleep off in their trucks. The police is invited to protect the electoral; not to meddle in the election.” Justice Byabakama said during the conference.
Justice Byabakama was addressing concerns raised by journalists following heavy police and military presence in the district seemingly to aid rigging of the vote.
He said the electoral commission was in charge of the process, and cautioned any police or military official found to meddle in electoral malpractice that they will be deal with by the law.
He cautioned security agencies against misconduct in the polls citing an incident in Jinja East where military personnel had arrested people at a polling station in the disguise of fishing crime.
Justice Byabakama informed the meeting that two candidates who had been prior nominated for the by-election, Ms Sheila Atukunda Kirebete and Ms Elizabeth Rwakitonera, had withdrawn their candidature at the last hour when the ballots had been printed.
“The law requires us therefore to inform voters that although the two people appear on the ballot, they should not vote for Sheilah and Elizabeth. If there is a diehard supporter for this candidate and votes for them in law that is an invalid vote and a waste of time for the voter.” Mr Byabakama said.
Justice Byabakama, flanked by four commissioners, said the commission was prepared with all the materials and ready for a successful election.
Later in the pre polling meeting for the stakeholders, the Forum for democratic change party president Mr Partrick Amuriat Oboi said there have been clearly identified challenges with eth army and police that must be fixed before the exercise to avoid crashes.
The Jinja East Member of parliament Mr Paul Mwiru cautioned the commission against prevalence of similar mistakes as it was cited in Jinja especially having pre-ticked ballots in ballot boxes on counting.
The NRM electoral commission chairperson Dr Tanga Odoi said security was fundamental in the exercise and anyone against thebdeployment wishes to fault the process.
He asked the commission to stand on firm ground and desist from being lectured on conducting the vote.
Justice Byabakama also asked police to behave professionally and not to be sen as agents for one of the candidates.
Following the withdrawal of Ms Rakitonera and Ms Kirebete, there are four candidates remaining in the race. The FDC candidate Ms Betty Muzanira, NRM’s Ms Winfred Masiko, PPP’s Fabith Kukundakwe and independent Ms Prisca Sezi Mbaguta.
177086 voters (78445- Rubabo county, 77499- Rujumbura, 21142- Rukungiri municipality) shall cast their vote at 280 polling stations in 87 parishes and 16 sub counties.
Kebisoni, Buyanja, Rwerere and Bikurungu town councils shall be voting for their leaders for the first time in an election following their activation in 2017.
Twenty seven positions including chairpersons and councilors shall be covered in the election