An attempt by minister of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries, Vincent Ssempijja, to overturn the Kalungu East parliamentary election victory of his opponent Francis Katabaazi Katongole of the National Unity Platform (NUP) hit a dead end after a magistrate made a final declaration.
Kalungu District Returning Officer Ann Namatovu had declared NUP’s Katabaazi the duly elected Kalungu East MP.
Katabaazi had garnered 12,198 votes, Ssempijja 10,865, Lule Mayiya 6,427 and Didas Mugooma 2,304.
But minister Ssempijja, who had earlier blamed his loss on the Catholic Church and sectarianism, rushed to court seeking an order for a vote recount.
Ssempijja, through his lawyer Geoffrey Kandebe, told Masaka Chief Magistrate Charles Yeteise that Katabaazi’s NUP supporters threw his agents out of the several polling stations as vote counting went underway.
“In several polling stations in the constituency many of the results declaration forms were not signed, which justifies why the recount should be granted to end this doubt,” argued Ssempijja’s lawyer.
Yeteise granted the minister’s request for a recount on January 25.
Meanwhile, Katabaazi sought to appeal the decision for a recount in vain.
The recount went on at Jude Primary School in Lukaya Town Council on January 26.
But in the midst of the exercise, a broken ballot box was discovered.
Neither the security nor the EC officials central to the ballots’ transportation exercise could explain how the seals were broken.
Suspecting fraud, Yeteise stopped the recount exercise — that was supposed to cover 36 polling stations — and ordered Katabaazi the duly elected MP.
But questions have remained. Was Ssempijja or Katabaazi involved in the breaking of the seals? Were extra ballot papers added and others removed?