Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF soldiers are under the spotlight for meddling in the just concluded local government elections in Bukomansimbi district. Residents accuse soldiers of disrupting the election to favour National Resistance Movement-NRM candidates.
According to residents, armed soldiers raided polling stations in different parts of Bukomansimbi where they openly engaged in electoral malpractices. Some of the affected polling stations include Meeru, Kabojja, Kyakamunya and Mbaale- Kasansula in Butenga Sub County. According to some of the residents, the armed soldier raided the polling stations midway the polls and started stuffing ballots.
Lawrence Jjumba, the polling agent of the Bukomansimbi National Unity Platform-NUP LC V Chairperson candidate’s race at Meeru polling station, says soldiers raided the polling station and forced the presiding officer to handover three ballot paper booklets, which they ticked in favour of NRM candidates and stuffed them in the boxes.
“The soldiers took advantage of the low voter turn-up to accomplish their evil mission with little public interference. They forcefully stuffed all the pre-ticked ballots into the boxes thereby messing up the whole exercise,” he said. Jjumba says the malpractice enraged voters who were watching everything from a distance prompting them to rise up in protest.
The standoff prompted antiriot police personnel from Bukomansimbi Central Police Station to intervene and accordingly withdraw polling materials from the affected polling stations. Henry Ggaliwango, another agent at Mbaale-Kasansula polling station narrates the acts of the soldiers threw the presiding officers and polling assistants in panic and allowed them to accomplish their evil mission.
Katumba Waswa, the National Unity Platform-NUP campaign coordinator and election monitor for Meeru parish in Butenga Sub County, says they notified the District Returning Officer about the irregularities and asked her to disregard results from the four polling stations.
“We are asking the Electoral Commission to only consider four out of the eight polling stations in the parish,” he said. Ester Asiimwe, the Bukomansimbi District Returning Officer says that he is waiting for an investigations report from Police that was called when the scuffle erupted at the affected polling stations. She, however, indicates that the reported inconsistencies could not substantially affect the final election results.
Maj. Flavia Mulindwa Terimulungi, the Spokesperson of the UPDF Armored Brigade Kasijjagirwa in Masaka district said they will investigate the reports and establish the truth about it. Similar incidents of armed soldiers running away with polling materials were reported at Bigasa playground polling station in Bigasa Sub County in Bukomansimbi District.