Uganda: Voter Bribery, Violence Cited Ahead of NRM Party Primaries

(file photo).
2 September 2020

Tension is high in different parts of the country as supporters of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party prepare to go to the polls this Friday to elect their Member of Parliament (MP) party flag bearers.

The ruling party, in a press statement issued yesterday, indicated that NRM primaries to pick its flag bearers for the 151 district woman MP slots and 353 direct constituencies will be held this Friday in the 69,075 villages.

The party, however, observed that it has recorded incidents of violence in the districts of Sembabule, Mityana, Hoima, Kiruhura, Kazo, Sheema and Bushenyi.

Others are Koboko, Kassanda, Tororo, Busia and Kakumiro, warning that any candidate who is got engaging in electoral violence will be disqualified.

"The commission's department of research has made a scan of the entire country and made a detection of the early electoral violence in several areas," NRM said.

In a mini-survey conducted by Daily Monitor countrywide, cases of voter bribery and other violent scenes orchestrated by supporters of rival aspirants have already been reported ahead of the elections.

In the districts of Dokolo and Kwania, a section of NRM supporters have also accused the party registrars of conniving with some candidates to manipulate voters' registers.

Some supporters alleged that their names were deleted on grounds that they are supporting the opponents of incumbent MPs.

Mr Bonny Ajungu, a resident of Oyima Village, Nambieso Sub-county in Kwania District, said he went to check for his name but it was missing.

"I found when my name had been deleted from the party register because I support Geoffrey Oguti Ojede," he said.

Mr Oguti is eyeing the NRM flag to unseat the incumbent Kwania County MP, Mr Tonny Ayo.

Mr Moses Eya, an NRM supporter in Agwingiri Village also in Nambieso, said names of several people from his area had also been deleted from the register.

"I went to the display centre and found the names of about 80 supporters deleted," he said.

Mr Moses Odongo, the Kwania District NRM registrar, however, refuted the allegations.

"We only deleted the names of some people who are not committed to the party but not because they support somebody," Mr Odongo said.

Mr George Akaca, the Kwania District NRM general secretary, confirmed that the voters' register was being manipulated by some registrars who have been compromised by some aspirants.

"It is true the register is tampered with," he said, adding that in Aduku Town Council, even the town council party chairperson's name was found missing.

In Dokolo, the allegation of manipulation of voters' register is also registered in Agwata and Bata sub-counties in Dokolo North constituency.

The NRM supporters there have asked the party electoral commission to suspend the primaries in the area over alleged manipulation of the voters' register.

They accused their area MP, Mr Paul Amoru Omiat, of conniving with the district NRM officials and the village registrars to delete their names from the register.

Mr Tonny Ojaba, a resident of Bata Town Council, claimed that his name was maliciously deleted from the register.

"My name was deleted after learning that I am supporting Mr Moses Ogwal Goli, who is Mr Amoru's rival," he claimed.

Queries over party register

Mr John Bosco Otoke, the Dokolo NRM administrative secretary, said some NRM supporters, who are complaining, had already crossed to other political parties.

"They don't have any room to complain because they are no longer NRM party members," he said.

In Tororo County, leaders and residents have vowed to boycott the party primaries, saying the government has ignored their pleas for district status.

Tororo County is occupied majorly by the Iteso who have for long demanded for district status as a solution to end their long-standing conflict with their counterparts, the Jopadhola. In Teso, drama continues to unravel as NRM aspirants wash their dirty linen before their voters.

The latest is where two NRM aspirants for Serere County in Serere District have accused each other of lacking pre-requisite academic papers for the position of MP.

In an August 27 letter, the Serere County MP, Mr Patrick Okabe, petitioned the party electoral commission chairperson, Tanga Odoi, demanding that the nomination of his rival, Mr Phillip Oucor, be quashed on grounds of questionable academic papers.

However, Odoi says he is not aware of the petition and so is Mr Rogers Mulindwa, the NRM party spokesperson. Mr Oucor dismissed the said allegations and instead accused the incumbent of lacking academic papers.

The NRM chairperson for Serere District, Mr Michael Olobo, also said NRM registers in the district have been tempered with and names of some voters deleted.

In Alebtong District, Mr Daniel Obal, an aspirant, has petitioned the NRM electoral body over what he terms as fraudulent practices ahead of the primaries in Ajuri County.

Mr Obal, who is contesting for the party flag with State minister for Sports Denis Hamson Obua, alleged that registrars in Awei and Abako sub-counties were illegally removed from office.

In Kabale, a section of NRM supporters are also protesting the deletion of their names from the party register.

They say their names were deleted intentionally by the district registrars. They want the problem rectified before voting day.

The Katenga LC2 vice chairperson, Mr Vanansio Turyamutangira, said the names of six family members were not in the register.

Mr Elijah Ninsiima, who is aspiring to represent Ryakarimira Town Council at the district, said he was disappointed after he did not find his name in the party register.

The town council registrar, Mr Robert Byomuhangi, said the complainants did not register with the party.

In Kamuli, Busoga North Region Police Commander Kityo Mwanga warned the public against hooliganism.

Mr Mwanga says intelligence reports indicate that candidates are recruiting some rowdy youth groups to disrupt the exercise.

In Ntungamo, the district NRM vice chairperson, Mr Evans Asiimwe Rutahweire, has withdrawn his candidature for the Kajara County MP seat following a meeting with the First Lady, Ms Janet Museveni, who is also the party chairperson in the district.

Mr Rutahweire had been nominated to contest against the incumbent, Mr Micheal Timuzigu Kamugisha.

Mr Wilberforce Mugyenyi, the party secretary general, confirmed the meeting with Ms Museveni.

"The First Lady, who is also our party chairperson, met some leaders and some candidates to eliminate rivalry in party primaries," he said.

In Mitooma District, residents of Mutara Sub-county in Ruhinda South County were left in shock after they found a coffin at a home of one of the aspirants. The Greater Bushenyi police spokesperson, Mr Marshal Tumusiime, said unknown people driving a motor vehicle went to the home of Mr Arthur Kazoora, dropped a coffin and some money.

In Sembabule District, the unending fights between rival NRM camps vying for the Mawogola North MP seat have attracted the attention of the national party vice chairperson, Mr Moses Kigongo.

Mr Kigongo, while meeting the different NRM candidates on Monday, warned against the involvement of military escorts to disrupt elections.

"Just use your security men to guard you and not to torture and intimidate rival candidates' supporters. Candidates who misuse the privilege of their personal guards for selfish interests will be arrested," Mr Kigongo warned.

The meeting was a follow-up of the recent reported cases involving open confrontations between rival NRM camps where a section of party supporters have been injured.

Last Saturday, supporters of Ms Shartis Musherure Kutesa, the daughter to Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa and those of her rival, Mr Godfrey Aine Kaguta Sodo, clashed at a meeting organised by the Sembabule NRM party registrar at Lugusuulu Sub-county headquarters.

MP beaten up

Meanwhile, police yesterday arrested three people after a confrontation in which Ms Hanifa Kawooya, the Sembabule District Woman MP, was reportedly injured by supporters of MP Joseph Ssekabiito.

The two camps had earlier engaged in counter accusations of tampering with the voters' registers.

The NRM Secretariat has deployed one of its staff, Mr Robert Ssesanga, to oversee the election exercise in Sembabule District.

A letter seen by the Daily Monitor and signed by Mr John Kigyagi Arimpa, the deputy chairperson of the NRM election commission, directs the district registrar, Mr Katogozi, to cooperate with Mr Ssesanga.

In Pader, the district chairperson, Mr Godfrey Oringa Largo, on August 24 petitioned NRM electoral commission to clarify on the candidature of Col Fearless Obwoya, saying he did not retire from UPDF before joining active politics.

The 5th Division army spokesperson, Lt Hassan Kato, could not confirm the fate of Col Obwoya, but emphasised that UPDF cannot allow anyone in active service to participate in politics.

In Omoro, the district NRM chairperson, Mr Denis Kidega, said they have talked to all the candidates and their agents to desist from violence and follow the NRM party constitution.

Compiled by Fred Wambede, Bill Oketch, Santo Ojok, Milton Bandiho, Perez Rumanzi, Alex Ashaba, Ismail Bategeka, Opio Sam Caleb, Robert Owot, Cissy Makumbi, Martin Okudi Robert Muhereza, Emmanuel Arinaitwe, Stephen Okello, Simon Peter Emwamu, Issa Aliga & Dan Wandera

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