June 7, 2013

Butebo By-Election: EC Investigates Low Voter Turn-Out

According to the declaration documents by Charles Rwebero, the Pallisa District Electoral Commission Registrar, only 26,364 of the 52,835 registered voters in Butebo County in Pallisa district participated in the by-election on Thursday. The declaration also indicates that not a single person showed up to vote in a total of 18 polling stations in the two sub counties of Opwateta and Kibale.
NRM'S Dr Patrick Mutono was declared winner by the Electoral commission
NRM’S Dr Patrick Mutono was declared winner by the Electoral commission
The Electoral Commission is investigating the circumstances under which more than half of the registered voters in Butebo constituency never turned up to vote in the just concluded by-election.

According to the declaration documents by Charles Rwebero, the Pallisa District Electoral Commission Registrar, only 26,364 of the 52,835 registered voters in Butebo County in Pallisa district participated in the by-election on Thursday.

The declaration also indicates that not a single person showed up to vote in a total of 18 polling stations in the two sub counties of Opwateta and Kibale.

Badru Kiggundu, the Electoral Commission chairperson, describes the situation as bad. He notes that whereas voting in Uganda is not mandatory, it is criminal to incite voters to boycott any political election.

He says the Commission has received reports that some people, including political leaders in the region who he declined to identify, incited voters not to turn up on voting day in protest to the nullification of Richard Oseku from the racejust a day to the election. Oseku, a Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) soldier, was contesting as an independent but was disqualified on Wednesday after it emerged that he had not resigned his job in time as required by law.

Kiggundu said this was wrong as it denied those who boycotted the election their constitutional right to participate in the election. He also described it as a gross sabotage of government program.

Kigundu said he has directed the police to investigate the circumstance that led to only about half of the registered voters to participate in the election and accordingly charge those found responsible.

He however said the nullification of Richard Oseku was done in good faith after he contravened Section 4 (4) (b) of the Parliamentary Elections Act 2005.

The Act states that a public officer or person employed in government department or agency of government who wishes to stand for election as Member of Parliament shall in case of a by-election, resign his or her office fourteen days before nomination day.

He blames Oseku for the problem adding that he deliberately refused to resign from the Uganda People’s Defence forces yet he is aware of the requirement.

Kiggundu, however, commended Oseku for exhibiting what he described as high discipline after receiving the news of his nullification. He described it as mature politics and good leadership after Oseku appeared on a radio station in Mbale on Thursday morning asking his supporters to go and participate in the election even after he was nullified.

Peter Kakonge, the Bukedi Regional Police Commander, says he has taken up the directive and would deploy detectives to open investigation into the matter.

Dr. Patrick Lodoi Mutono of the National Resistance Movement was on Thursday night declared winner after registering a landslide victory over five other contestants.

He garnered a total of 22,915 votes, taking up 88.8 percent of the total votes cast. Mutono was followed by Elizabeth Aisu, an independent candidate who polled 1,349 which translates into 5.2 percent of the total votes.

Yothia Sajjabi, also an independent, came third with 772 of the votes indicating 3.0 percent while the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party candidate Samuel Khalwa got 546 votes representing 2.1 percent.

Other candidates were Democratic Party (DP)’s Said Zziwa, who got 127 votes representing 0.5 percent and Eria Kashodo, an independent who got 94 votes indicating 0.4 percent.

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