“I won with difference of over 4,000 in the 2016 elections but now I hope to win with big margin that usual,” Masiko says.
Former FDC president kizza Besigye talks to election observers and journalists after casting his vote in Rukungiri municipality. Photo by Caleb Bahikaho
The NRM candidate Winfred Masiko has accused FDC for importing foreigners to disturb the elections in Rukungiri.
She said they have over 300 people who came from outside Rukungiri and majority of them coming from Kasese and Kampala to intimidate her voters.
She said that Jinja East Member of Parliament Paul Mwiru was in Nyakishenyi dishing money to voters to vote for her opponent.
She also said that Mwiru had pre- ticket ballot papers ticked for Masiko to display them to the media, saying it was a trick to discredit her.
"This is what happened in Jinja East they were having fake ballot papers and displayed them to journalist that they got them trying to stuff them in the ballot box, now he has done it here again," she said.
She added that on top of all those she hopes to perform better than last elections. "I won with difference of over 4,000 in the 2016 elections but now I hope to win with big margin that usual," she said.
Muzanira speaks out
The FDC candidate Betty Muzanira arrived at exactly 11:02am and casted her vote at 11:07am at Rukungiri stadium. She was accompanied by district FDC chairperson Vulginiya Kyarugahe aboard a mark11 car.
She also accused the Police of harassing her people in Karangaro, Furuma and many parts of Bugangari sub-county. She said there were allegations of pre- ticked ballot papers in Nyakishenyi, which her agents confiscated. She says NRM agents were reducing on her vote by buying people and intimidating them, but still hopes to win with very big margin.
"I know I will win the elections, but if it was not the state agents who are buying people and stuffing ballot papers I would have won with over 80%," she said.
Former FDC presidential flag bearer, Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye cast his vote at 11:37am at Rwakabengo health centre III in Southern division Rukungiri Municipality. The polling station is just about 200meters from his home and he did not use a car to reach the polling station. He was accompanied by his driver Kato on foot.
Besigye decries heavy security deployment
Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye said NRM only fears elections than any other thing. He wondered why there was heavy deployment of police and army as if there is a hostile country threatening to attack Uganda.
"The elections like this one need only polling constables and other presiding officers to manage the elections, what is the use of Mambas teargas and all that army in small election like this?" he asked.
He said all those were in Rukungiri to intimidate the voters. He also accused state agents of harassing their people and arresting many people for nothing.
He said former NRC for Rujumbura County and former district chairperson, Athanasius Rutaro was arrested at 6:30am at his home in Nyaburondo Nyakagyeme as he was coming out of his house to vote and do the monitoring of elections in Nyakagyeme sub-county. He also said that other people, including former Rwampara County MP Hon. Kyamadidi were in police custody.
Besigye said stealing of votes always begins at the end of voting, that they bring other similar box with different declaration form and ballot papers which they present at the tally centre and when you complain they say go to court just to buy time as they did last time.
He said people were strong and ready to guard their votes to the last minute.
From the on-set, this by-election can be described as a highly securitized affair especially judging from the number of senior military officers present and active in the district as well as the level of deployment of the rank and file security personnel.
It seems apparent that the Electoral Commission (EC) itself is trying to manage an ostensibly overbearing security apparatus to ensure that voters exercise their franchise in a reasonably calm environment without undue interference or intimidation. It is certainly not going to be an easy job for any of the election stakeholders considering the high stakes in this by-election.
Do or die for the parties
The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) is determined to retain the district seat but Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and the opposition seem resolved to marshal against an evidently tumultuous environment to clinch yet another seat in Parliament.
Rukungiri district has 16 sub-counties, 87 parishes, 280 polling stations and 177,086 registered voters.
There are four (4) candidates vying for the Rukungiri District Woman MP position: Winfred Matsiko (NRM), Betty Muzanira (FDC), Fabith Kukundakwe (PPP) and Prisca Sezi Mbaguta (independent). Two (2) independent candidates: Atukunda Sheilla and Rwakitonera Elizabeth withdrew from the race days to the polling date.
Observers are paying keen attention to three (3) of the 16 sub counties including: Nyakishenyi, Nyarushanje and Bwambara, which are said to be potential hotspots, based on occurrences in previous elections.
Unlike in previous by-elections of this nature, delivery of polling materials to the furthest sub counties of: Bikurungu town council, Nyakishenyi sub county, Bwambara sub county and Nyarushanje sub county was done yesterday (30thMay) to ensure that materials are at polling stations in time to allow for opening of polling stations at the designated 7:00am hour.