Voting halted at 3 polling stations in Kayunga over pre-ticked ballots

Electoral officials and Polling Agents examine pre-ticked ballots in Kangulumira, Kayunga District (URN Photo)

KAYUNGA, UGANDA: Voting at three polling stations in Kayunga district has been halted after residents protested the exercise over alleged ballot stuffing.

Voting was halted at polling stations of Kyato-Mwoloola, Nakyesanja at Kayonza sub county and Seeta-Nyiize in Kangulumira sub county.

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At Nakyesanja and Kyato, each presiding officer was seen at the polling stations alone with boxes stuffed with over 100 ballot papers ticked in favour of Andrew Muwonge, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate.

At Kangulumira specifically Nakyesanja polling station, the box was stuffed with over 462 ballot papers before even the bio-metric machine was brought to the station.

The residents protested, saying they were boycotting the election. Police and the army have cordoned off the stations to prevent further chaos, with the presiding officers placed under heavy protection.

John Mpiima a voter at Seeta says the exercise should stop since they cannot trust the election officials anymore.

Dr Tanga Odoi, who is monitoring Kangurumira on behalf of NRM says he’s not aware of how votes were pre-ticked, he appealed to the Electoral Commission to dispatch a team to sort out the mess so that the voting exercise continues.

“What we want simply is for Byabakama [Electoral Commission boss] to sort out the mess and the election continues. If there is a problem, the problem should not be solved in the streets. The problem should be solved by him meeting the officials and agreeing on the way forward. That is the way to go. They are telling me that they pre-ticked, I don’t know, I have been monitoring my area, they are saying there was pre-ticking of ballots, I don’t know anything about it, because, me I’m on my own duty but if they are also affecting my party, I have to rise to the occasion by saying no, let them sort the mess and the election continues because we cannot say we cancel when people are there to vote,” Tanga said.

Justice Simon Byabakama, Electoral Commission chairperson who is also in Kayunga heading the supervision of the exercise says they have dispatched teams to reach areas where the incidents have happened so as to find a solution.

“I have received reports of alleged ballot stuffing where the ballots boxes by 6.30 am were already full, full. Now we have sent out our teams to verify these reports and if we ascertain that they are authentic we shall take the necessary action as prescribed under the law,” said Byabakama.

Locals claim that the plot to stuff ballots was executed last night. Several boxes of pre-ticked votes were allegedly dispatched to most rural sub counties in the district in the wee hours of today morning.

However, the resident district commissioner Ssempala Kigozi, contends that security ensured that there was no movement of people during the night.

According to him, the few people that moved during the night were arrested including opposition MPs; Aloysius Mukasa, Charlese Tebandeke and Lukyamuzi Kalwanga.

Last night, locals were captured on camera allegedly returning home and complaining after being given only Shs 4,000 each to vote in favour of the NRM candidate.

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