Uganda: 20 Injured, Four Houses Burnt in NRM Poll Chaos

15 October 2020

At least 20 people were injured, four houses torched and a dozen others damaged in Siemba Village, Mukaani Parish, Sigulu Islands in Namayingo District on Monday following the Bukhooli Islands NRM party primaries.

The violence was allegedly triggered by supporters of Mr George Ouma Abbot, the incumbent MP, and his rival, Mr Peter Okeyoh, after the latter was declared the party flag bearer for parliamentary seat last week.

Mr Melikiyo Mugwambo, a resident of Siemba, said at least 10 supporters of either candidate are nursing injuries while others do not have shelter and food after their houses and food were destroyed.

Ms Wilikister Acheng, another resident, who sustained a deep cut on the head, said she was attacked in her compound by a group of youth armed with machetes and sticks.

"They first attacked my son and when I intervened, one of them hacked me using a machete," Ms Acheng said on Tuesday.

Mr James Atenge, who also suffered several cuts on his scalp and a fractured hand, said he was rescued from the mob by police.

"The mob hacked me and when I fell down, they poured petrol on me, and as they were planning to set me ablaze, a police officer fired bullets in the air to disperse them," he said.

Mr Alfred Osebe, another resident who sustained deep cuts on his back, said he used his hand to defend himself from being attacked but as he fled, he was cut on the back.

The two rival camps accuse each other of sparking off the violence.Mr Francis Oguttu Makokha, a victim, said the fights were sparked off by Mr Okeyoh's supporters after he (Okeyoh) reportedly first led them to Mr Ouma's home from where property was destroyed and his supporters indiscriminately attacked.

Mr James Nyanja, Mr Okeyoh's supporter, said his houses were burnt by his brothers.

"We were beaten and my houses were burnt by my own brothers because of not supporting Mr Ouma, who is our clan mate," he claimed.

Mr Ouma, who was reportedly in Kampala when the violence erupted, has since disputed Mr Nyanja's narrative.

"Instead of celebrating his victory, Mr Okeyoh became bitter and resorted to attacking my house which sparked off the attacks," Mr Ouma said.

Mr Okeyoh denied the allegations, saying whereas the houses that were burnt and people who sustained injuries are in Siemba, his celebrations were in Maanga Parish.

"We were celebrating at my father's home in Matolo when we heard that our supporters and homes in Mukaani Parish had been attacked by supporters of Mr Ouma; and that is how the confusion started," Mr Okeyoh said.

Efforts to speak to Mr James Mubi, the Busoga East police spokesperson, were futile as our repeated calls went unanswered.

Mr Okeyoh garnered 18,502 votes in the elections against Mr Ouma's 17,312 votes.

Mr Ouma, however, petitioned the party elections tribunal, citing fraud in the process but Mr Okeyoh's victory was on Thursday last week upheld, triggering celebrations among several of his supporters and chaos from both political camps.

Mr Ouma contends that Mr Okeyoh got 13,384 votes.

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