By Mable Nakibuuka
The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Justice Simon Byabakama has admitted that the January 14th presidential elections were marred with ballot stuffing, theft of ballot boxes from polling stations, disappearance of Declarations forms from agents at some polling stations and other malpractices, although he insists such anomalies cannot erode the fact that it was free and fair.
Justice Byabakama made these somewhat shocking revelations in his report issued Thursday after the E.C officially published the Presidential results, which indicate that the incumbent, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) won after he scored 6,042,898 votes representing 58.38%, followed by his stiff competitor Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, who scored 3,631,437 votes with 35.08%.
According to Byabakama, the discrepancies and malpractices exhibited in the election prompted the E.C to reject votes from 83 polling stations, which accounted for 54,357 votes, a percentage he said is too minimal to make a difference of the final results even if they were added onto those that Bobi Wine garnered.
Justice Byabakama’s report reads in part thus;
“The Commission wishes to inform Ugandans that the results of 83 polling stations, with a total of fifty-four thousand three hundred and fifty-seven (54,357) registered voters were not included in the final tally due to various reasons which included;
1-Allegations of Ballot stuffing that gave rise to violence and destruction of the voting materials at the polling station
2-Grabbing of polling materials during the polling process
3-Grabbing of polling materials during the polling process including envelopes containing elections results forms
4- Declaration of Results (DR) Forms missing in the results envelopes and the metallic black box
5-Total votes exceeded the number of registered voters for the polling stations
6-Acts of hooliganism and violence during the counting, leading to grabbing of polling materials by unknown persons.”
It should however be noted that prior to and during the presidential election, the E.C, together with the Uganda Police, Uganda Peoples Defence Forces, Local Defence Unit (LDU) deployed heavily at all polling stations across the country to ensure that no one disrupts the polling process.
One wonders therefore, where the Police and army officers deployed at polling stations where or what the E.C officials were doing to look on as people grabbed ballot boxes, envelopes and other polling materials which they ran away with, as Byabakama states.
It also raises a lot of questions about whether an election that has been marred with violence, theft of ballot boxes and polling materials by unknown persons, ballot stuffing and other malpractices as stated by Byabakama can be free and fair.
It should also be noted that Byabakama, in his report, did not reveal whether the police managed to arrest all those people who ran away with ballot boxes from polling stations, those who were involved in ballot stuffing or those that attacked the Polling Agents of some presidential candidates and grabbed DR forms from them.