By Henry Mukasa
Civil society organizations that monitored the voting process in the Butambala by-election have hailed the Electoral Commission (EC) for the improvement in logistical organisation.
In a statement issued after the declaration of results, the Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) also cited areas that need improvement for better election management.
"CCEDU noted the overall improved logistical organization on the side of the Electoral Commission. Apart from deploying relatively well trained officials to manage the polling exercise, the EC introduced and popularized complaints' reporting toll free line and center at its Gombe office," the report issued by Crispy Kaheru, the CCEDU Project Coordinator stated.
The civil society group however complained that whereas the EC Election Observers' guidelines provide for the observers' free access to polling stations, the "Diary Checklist" that the EC gave to each of the polling constables prohibits observers from accessing the polling ring.
"The polling constables at Kayenje town and Bwetamiza polling stations questioned the CCEDU Election Observers in an attempt to deny them entry into the polling ring. The observers were later accepted to enter the polling ring after the interventions of the presiding officials at both polling stations. The polling constable at Bwetamiza admitted that she had received 'orders from above' to deny observers entry into the polling ring."
CCEDU deployed 20 election observers in the Butambala MP by-election. The constituency has a total 86 polling stations and the organisation strategically sampled them in all the six sub-counties of: Gombe, Kibibi, Budde, Ngando, Kalamba and Bulo.