Uganda: Ballot Box Stolen, Voters Protest

Buganda and western region contribute six out of every 10 voters in the country while Karamoja, with its nine districts, has the least number of voters.
15 January 2021

By Alfred Tumushabe

In Rushenyi County in Ntungamo District, a box containing ballot papers was stolen in transit to a polling station while in Kashari County in Mbarara District voters were reportedly given pre-ticked ballots for president at a polling station, sparking protests.

The stolen box contained voting materials for Kacerere Polling Station in Nyarwanya Parish in Rushenyi constituency.

The Ntungamo District registrar, Mr Latif Ngozi, told Daily Monitor that the box contained ballot papers for president, directly elected Members of Parliament and District Woman MP and other voting materials.

He said Kacerere Polling Station has 837 voters.

"Some bad characters decided to steal the ballot box. For that polling station people did not vote and arrests have been made," Mr Ngozi said yesterday.

He added: "We are in touch with Electoral Commission (EC) headquarters. We are going to have an election tomorrow (today) morning."

Mr Samson Kasasira, the Rwizi Region police spokesperson, said four suspects had been arrested over the incident.

He said at around 3am, a vehicle carrying the voting materials broke down in transit and the officials responsible, who were accompanied by candidates' agents, offloaded the materials.

The officials and some local volunteers decided to transport the materials on foot to the sub-county. However, along the way the box of ballots with its master key disappeared.

In Mbarara, at Amabaare Central Church of Uganda Polling Station in Nyabisirira parish in Kashare Sub-county in Kashari Constituency, some local council officials who were serving as candidate Yoweri Museveni's agents reportedly announced that voters would be given pre-ticked ballots for president.

"Some voters, especially the youth protested and there was some commotion, forcing the officials to suspend the voting temporarily," an eyewitness, who preferred anonymity, told Daily Monitor.

Another voter who declined to be named told Daily Monitor that shortly after suspension of the voting, police arrived at the polling station.

The commanding officer, a tall man dressed in Khaki uniform, reportedly asked people who were lining up that whoever was not willing to vote President Museveni should get out of the queue.

The voter further alleged that the police officer ordered pre-ticking of all ballot papers for president and stayed at the presiding officer's desk as pre-ticked ballots in favour of candidate Museveni were being issued to voters.

The local NRM chairman for Kashare sub-county Andrew Beyunga said he called police after some voters at the polling station protested. However, he did not reveal what they were protesting against.

At another polling station called Mutoozo in the neighbouring parish voters were reportedly not given ballots for president and the ballot box for president was not there. They were reportedly given only ballots for Members of Parliament.

Ms Betty Komugyereko, the Mbarara District registrar, she said she had no information regarding the incident.

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