By Malik Fahad
The Masaka Chief Magistrates Court has okayed a recount of votes cast for the Kalungu East Constituency parliamentary race where Agriculture Minister, Vincent Ssempijja lost to National Unity Platform flag bear Francis Katabaazi in the January 14 polls.
This followed an application by Ssempiija complaining that the vote counting and tallying was marred by irregularities which denied him victory.
Katabaazi, pulled over 12,000 votes against Ssempijja’s 10,800, indicating a margin of 1,300 votes.
Former area MP Umar Lule Mawiya (Ind) came in third place with 6,400 votes followed by Didas Mugooma another independent candidate with 2,300 votes.
Court presided over by Masaka Chief Magistrate Charles Yeteise, has heard that the tallying exercise was full of gross irregularities and that Ssempijja’s polling agents were reportedly chased from some polling stations.
Ssempijja’s lawyers led by Geoffrey Kandebe told the court that similar incidents of chasing polling agents occurred in at least 25 polling stations which gave a chance to Katabaazi’s agents and Electoral Commission polling officials to reportedly tamper with the votes to the disadvantage of Ssempijja.
However, the Electoral Commission lawyer Eric Sabiti told court that the electoral exercise in Kalungu East was free, fair and peaceful and this is witnessed by the fact that all candidates’ agents signed the declaration of result forms without hesitation including those of Ssempijja, yet they had all the right to decline to sign them.
Yeteise has thus ordered that the Kalungu District returning officer Anne Namatovu conducts a vote recount today, January 26.