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Where votes outnumbered voters

In Rakai, before he announced results of the February 18 presidential and parliamentary elections, Daniel Baguma, the district returning officer, said on Friday, he had received information from one of his presiding officers that armed men raided a polling station and stuffed pre-ticked ballots in the ballot box.

According to him, the polling station that came under attack was at Kibuuka in Lwamaggwa sub-county in the newly-created Buyamba constituency. Baguma said the armed men first fired bullets in the air to disperse onlookers.

When it was safe for them, they opened the ballot boxes and stuffed pre-ticked ballots in favour of NRM candidates. The Kibuuka incident was not an isolated one. More polling stations reported discrepancies in the number of ballots cast against the number of registered voters.

For instance, results from Kaleere polling station in Dwaniro sub-county, Rakai district showed that 605 people had voted yet the register has 205 voters. Results from Kyakatuuma polling station in Kakuuto sub-county returned a total tally of 349 votes against 294 registered voters while at Lusonji polling station in Lwamaggwa sub-county, the final tally was 714 votes yet the number of registered voters is 708.

Migo polling station in Lwamaggwa sub-county had a total tally of 400 votes compared to 389 voters registered there. The anomalies came to the fore after Robina Ssentongo, a candidate for the Rakai Woman MP seat, complained to the returning officer.

In Sembabule district two bundles of ticked ballot papers were handed over to police as exhibits for a possible case of electoral malpractice.

One bundle had 64 ballots ticked in favour of Anifa Kawooya, the incumbent Woman MP, while another had 181 ballots ticked in favour of President Museveni.

The bundles were from Nsambya-Kidandali polling station in Lugusuulu sub-county where an NRM functionary arrived with a man dressed in a jacket. Witnesses said the pre-ticked ballots were hidden in the jacket.

A journalist who was at the polling station told The Observer that the NRM functionary took advantage of the fewer number of people at the polling station to execute his mission.

“There were a few people on the sidelines while others stood in groups at a nearby trading centre and when they attempted to protest, armed men came and beat up everyone around,” the journalist said.

Harunah Kayondo, an agent for the FDC presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye, claimed the armed men also confiscated mobile phones of his party’s Power 10 group that was deployed to monitor the electoral process.

At the district tally centre in Sembabule, there were dramatic scenes as Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo led protests against the inclusion of results from six polling stations where there was no voting.

The polling stations included Kirama, Ntusi Primary School, Kazooba A, Lwemibu, Mageege and Kinoni. If results from those polling stations had been included in the final tally,  Ssekikubo could have lost his seat.

The returning officer, Latif Ngonzi, suspended the tallying for some time to consult as police took charge of the tally centre. Ngonzi later announced that the results from the controversial polling stations would not be considered.

sadabkk@observer. ug

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