GUNSHOTS, bloodshed, and chaos marred NRM elections across the country yesterday. About 13 people were injured and admitted to hospitals in critical condition.
Mbale, Butaleja and Karamoja called off elections over various reasons. In Ssembabule, MP Theodore Ssekikubo clashed with polling officials.
Elections were also called off in Mbale, Butaleja and Karamoja following disagreements and delays in delivery of voting materials.
In Ssembabule, Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikuboâ€™s and his supporters violently clashed with the polling officials.
One person, Lt. Habib Nsamba, was rushed to Masaka Hospital after being shot while trying to disarm Ssekikuboâ€™s guard, only identified as Alex. Later, Ssekikubo and his supporters reportedly went into hiding.
Earlier, the guard had been forced to return his AK-47 gun to Ssekikuboâ€™s car, but later, it was discovered he had a pistol.
The scuffle began in the morning when the area returning officer, Emmanuel Sekimpi, declared that he was ready to begin the election exercise. Ssekikubo challenged the decision, saying it was not right for the district party elections to go on when Lwemiyaga sub-county, where he comes from, had not elected its leaders.
As Sekimpi started reading the names of the voters, Ssekikubo stopped him. A group of people then surged forward to attack Ssekikubo. And at this stage, his armed guard ordered them to keep away, but they ignored him. Nsamba then confronted Alex to remove the pistol from him and Alex shot him in the stomach.
A furious Ssekikubo, who also was armed with a pistol, threw the election materials from the table as the officials fled for dear life. He also manhandled the Police officers.
When the situation ran out of hand, the Police fired tear-gas to disperse the crowd. The southern regional Police commander, Fred Sekiwere, rushed to Sembabule with more officers.
Speaking to The New Vision in Kampala, the partyâ€™s national deputy spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, condemned the incident and called on the Police to arrest the people involved.
â€œThat is a criminal matter. Ssekikubo behaves in a roguish way and thinks he is untouchable. He is always behind every conflict in the district,â€ Ofwono said.
He said the district party electoral commission should suspend Ssekikubo from the party because â€œhe is becoming a nuisance.â€
There was also violence in Butaleja in eastern Uganda, where 12 people were seriously injured.
The Police fired in the air to disperse a group of people who wanted to burn vehicles belonging to the district chairman, Richard Waya. The elections were also cancelled following the chaos.
The saga started when Bunyole MP Emmanuel Dombo accused his opponent, Imran Muluga, of conniving with Waya and the Woman MP, Dorothy Hyuha, to rig the elections.
Dombo claimed his rivals had kept over 300 voters at Tororo Progressive Academy to prevent the other NRM candidates from accessing them. The total number of voters at the polling station is 570.
At 1:35pm, Mulugaâ€™s supporters, draped in the yellow party T-shirts, arrived at Butaleja district in 10 taxis chanting NRM slogans. These, led by Muluga and Dan Hyuha, the husband of minister Dorothy, clashed with Domboâ€™s supporters. Domboâ€™s supporters accused Mulugaâ€™s supporters of being mercenaries from Tororo.
By press time, Dombo was still at Butaleja Central Police Station, where he had gone to make a statement. He claimed he was punched twice on the neck by Waya.
The officer in-charge of Butaleja Central Police Station, Alex Olowo, said 12 people were admitted at Busolwe hospital in critical condition.
In Tororo, the anti-riot Police was deployed to calm rowdy supporters of Apollo Ofwono and David Okurut, the two candidates for the district NRM chairmanship.
Ofwonoâ€™s group had earlier left the voting venue. When they returned, they were told by the NRM district registrar, Kirumi Mawere, that voting was already underway and that some positions had been filled.
This sparked off protests from Okurutâ€™s supporters, prompting the deputy resident district commissioner, Richard Gulume, to stop the exercise.
Tempers also flared in Sironko as a group of youth fought each other during the nomination process. One of the two groups accused the returning officer, Isaiah Shibuta, of messing up the nomination process.
In Buliisa, two people were arrested by the Police while trying to disorganise the elections. The situation was later calmed.
In Kapchorwa, the voting exercise, held at Kapchorwa Teachers Development Management Centre, was disrupted after Tingey MP Herbert Sabila demanded that Dr. Steven Chebrot, a former member of the Health Service Commission, be disqualified.
Sabila argued that Chebrot had not yet got an acceptance letter from President Museveni, following his resignation from the commission.
In turn, supporters of Chebrot demanded that Sabila be disqualified since he was also convicted of corruption early this year.
Violence erupted after the NRM administrative secretary, Athens Somikwo, declared Sabila the elected district chairperson amid confusion. Police intervened to rescue Somikwo from an angry mob which wanted to lynch him.
During the tallying of the votes, MP Steven Kaliba (Fort Portal Municipality) fought with Alex Ruhundaâ€™s supporters who were celebrating. Kaliba was contesting with Ruhunda for the general secretaryâ€™s seat.
The Police arrested the MPâ€™s son; whose identity had not been got by press time.
Incidents of violence were also reported in Kampala city.
Ofwono Opondo last evening said the reconciliation committee would address some of the conflicts that were of a national nature, while those at the lower levels would be solved by the tribunals and the district electoral commissions.
Reporting by Conan Businge,
Ali Mambule, Mary Karugaba, Paul Watala, Moses Bikaka,
Caleb Bahikaho, Bwogi Buyera,
Daniel Edyegu, Rashid Muzungyo and Hope Mafaranga
MP Sekikuuboâ€™s guard shoots at voters