Allegations of ballot stuffing and other forms of vote rigging have marred the election of Ugandan representatives to the regional Parliament, the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala).
The voting exercise, which happened the afternoon of Thursday, September 29, through the evening hours, was preceded by plenary sessions presided over by both Speaker Anita Annet Among, the Bukedea District Woman MP; and her deputy Thomas Tayebwa, the Ruhinda North legislator.
The race through which nine people will represent the country at the regional assembly based in Arusha Tanzania will be chosen has attracted 28 candidates.
The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, which commands the majority in the 11th Parliament as was the case in the previous Parliaments, has fronted its six incumbent representatives.
The six candidates of the ruling party include: George Stephen Odongo, Paul Musamali, Rose Akol Okullu and Dennis Namara. In their address to the legislators, they asked the 11th Parliament to return them to Arusha, saying they had some unfinished business that they wanted to complete.
Opposition political parties also fronted their best candidates for the Eala race. Patrick Oboi Amuriat’s Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) fronted Harold Kaija, the Deputy Secretary General in charge of Administration; while Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Norbert Mao’s Democratic Party (DP) sent Secretary General Gerald Blacks Siranda into the crowded race.
There were also a number of independent candidates.
But there was chaos as one politician claimed that there was ballot stuffing. He called on the police to act and the media to capture the alleged electoral malpractice.
Swearing that there would be no vote rigging as long as he was around, this politician punched a police officer for reportedly failing to do his work and for looking on as alleged vote rigging happened.
Watch videos below:
The 11th Parliament 🙆 pic.twitter.com/Z3hTnc3RBg
— Patrick Mukasa (@pmukasaofficial) September 29, 2022
— Red Pepper Uganda (@RedPepperUG) September 29, 2022
As if that was not ugly enough, MPs led by Buyaga County legislator Barnabas Tinkasiimire complained that he was not granted a chance to vote even when he was present.
It emerged that the Speaker Anita Among had granted some members of Parliament the privilege to vote early since they had told her that they had urgent matters to handle.
But this sparked off allegations of vote rigging.
MP Tinkasiimire also claimed that there were ballot papers in the box into which he put his yet he thought he was the only MP Speaker Among had granted the privilege to vote earlier than the official time of voting.
UPDATE: The grant of early voting permission to Members of Parliament with urgent matters besides the election for the East Africa Legislative Assembly has sparked allegations of vote rigging. #NTVNews pic.twitter.com/Umfqd4j0kx
— NTV UGANDA (@ntvuganda) September 29, 2022
But The Pearl Times has learnt that other people such as Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (Maaif), and Kibale East County MP, had cast his ballot before the official voting opened.
“Thank you Parliament for allowing early voting. Done my part and I am off to Namarele to check on our agricultural machinery being assembled. All the best to our best for Eala,” wrote Minister Tumwebaze before voting.
Meanwhile, there was shock in Parliament as an MP collapsed and was rushed to hospital in critical condition. (Read Story Here).
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