By Kevin Githuku & Juliet Nalwooga
Election experts and human rights defenders have condemned the election malpractice and voter intimidation that marred the Oyam North constituency by-election in Oyam district on Thursday.
In one incident, armed unidentified people stormed Wang Lobo polling station in Otwal sub-county and put the presiding officer at gunpoint before forcefully taking and ticking 5 booklets containing 250 ballots.
While in another, at least 2 people were arrested for alleged voter bribery.
Dr. Livingstone Sewanyana, the Executive Director of Foundation for Human Rights Initiative says election violence in the country is largely accelerated by lack of independence and objectivity from those entrusted with the electoral process.
While for Cryspin Kaheru, another election expert and member of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, the Electoral Commission (EC) must always make its position clear on such matters.
“For those elections that display glaring malpractices, the electoral management body must come out boldly, cancel the results and organize a fresh exercise”, he said.
Speaking to KFM from Oyam District yesterday, the EC spokesperson Paul Bukenya confirmed that there were some incidents of alleged malpractice that are being investigated together with the police. He added in places where these incidents occurred the voting was extended to allow voters to cast their ballots in peace.
Yesterday’s Oyam parliamentary by-election was won by Uganda People’s Congress candidate, Dr Eunice Apio.
She was declared winner with 15,718 votes (49%) of the total votes cast, while her closest challenger, Samuel Engola Jr of the ruling National Resistance Movement polled 15,176 (47%).
The Oyam North seat fell vacant following the demise of former labour state minister Col Charles Engola who was shot dead by his bodyguard at his home in Kampala.
The others in the race were Daniel Okello of the National Unity Platform and Newton Freddy Okello of the Forum for Democratic Change