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600 EC Officials face probe over Election Malpractice

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Hundreds of Electoral Commission (EC) staff and individuals contracted to manage presidential and parliamentary elections are under investigations over allegations of condoning or facilitating a litany of malpractices.

Results from 83 out of more than 34,600 polling stations have consequently been annulled and excluded in the final national tallies that the EC Chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama, announced yesterday.

Except for Isingiro, Kole, Jinja, Lamwo, Soroti, Kotido and Bundibugyo, other districts that had problematic polling stations were all in Buganda region where runner-up presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, of the National Unity Platform (NUP) secured landslide wins.

“We have alerted police to investigate each and every incidence of interference, violence, disruption of the processes that rendered it impossible to get the final results from these stations,” Justice Byabakama told a press conference at the EC headquarters in Kampala.

The commission is yet to receive report about the progress of police inquiries into what he described as a “grave matter”.

About 54,000 voters registered at the affected polling stations, although it is unclear how many voted on January 14.

The national turn-out for the 18.1 million voters was 59 per cent, according to EC statistics.

Perfumes Category

The commission said as it had argued on January 16, that exclusion of results from affected polling stations in the national tally does not substantially affect the final outcome.

After receiving filings from 96 per cent of the polling stations countrywide, the EC on January 16 declared the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party candidate Yoweri Museveni winner, saying it needed to comply with a constitutional requirement to announce the election results within 48 hours from end of voting.

Whereas Mr Museveni, the incumbent, had garnered 5.8 million votes or 58 per cent of the valid votes based on the January 16 declaration, his total votes grossed 6 million in final results released yesterday.

Six hundred sixty four electoral officials were managing the just concluded presidential and parliamentary elections.

Results from 83 polling stations were not included in the final tally, which EC chairperson announced yesterday.

Bobi Wine gained additional 200,000 votes, taking his total votes to 3.6 million while the votes of third-placed Patrick Amuriat, who was the Forum for Democratic Change flag bearer, increased marginally by 14,000 to 337, 589.

Invalid votes outnumbered the combined votes received by the other presidential candidates from 99.8 per cent of the nationwide polling stations.

Commenting about the alleged malpractices, Justice Byabakama said: “… its in the interest of the commission to ensure that such ugly episodes don’t manifest themselves again in our electoral processes because they can undermine our democracy. We are following up this so that we don’t have a repetition.”

The EC data said it deployed six individuals – a presiding officer, four polling assistants, a biometric voter machine operator and two police constables – to manage elections at each polling station.

These temporary hires for the 83 polling stations add to 664. This website has learnt that other substantive EC employees implicated in election malpractices have been recalled, pending internal investigative and administrative action.

Irregularities

Irregularities cited at various polling stations included ballot stuffing that saw a rise in violence and destruction of voting materials, grabbing of polling materials, including envelopes containing election result forms and declaration of result (DR) forms, which were missing in the results’ envelopes and the metallic black boxes.

There were also reported acts of hooliganism and violence during the counting, Justice Byabakama said, leading to grabbing of polling materials by unknown persons.

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