Voting in the Arua Municipality MP by-election kicked off Wednesday morning amidst late arrival of polling officials and failure of the biometric verification machines at several polling stations.
At most polling stations visited by our reporter, polling materials arrived by 6:30am while voting commenced between 8am and 8:30am. At Awindiri primary school F-Z and A-E polling stations that have 554 and 635 registered voters respectively, one of the presiding officers failed to show up and had to be replaced by the parish supervisor.
The biometric verification machine also took over 30 minutes before it started working. At Husura Mosque polling station F-Z in Nsamia cell, voting started at 8:30am because of the late arrival of the operator of the biometrics machine. At Arua Police ground polling station only 5 voters including a police officer had voted by 8:00am as the officials also delayed to show up in time.
At Bazaar ward, the polling supervisor Fr. Richard Ogen, said they were delayed by drivers who had parked their vehicles at the polling grounds forcing them to wait.
At Club Cell polling station in River Oli division, our reporter saw long queues of voters eager to cast their votes as early as 7am.
But actual voting delayed to start because of the arrival of some polling officials. The Electoral Commission Spokesperson, Jotham Tarema, who was busy inspecting the progress of the voting exercise, acknowledged that there are challenges that EC is set to address.
There were also unconfirmed reports of tension at Najjah polling station and Arua primary school polling stations because of the reported failure of the biometrics operator to show up until another person was appointed to take over the process.
Eight candidates are vying for the vacant Arua municipality MP seat. They include Alfred Nyakuni, Simon Avutia, Sunday Anguandia, Jackson Atima, Francis Nyero Bavuga Saf, Robert Ejiku and Wadri Kassiano, all independents.
The others are DP’s Moses Kennedy, Jaffer Alekua of Jeema and FDC’s Bruce Musema. The seat fell vacant following the assassination of the incumbent, Ibrahim Abiriga and his brother, Saida Buuga Butele in June this year on their way home in Matugga in Wakiso district.
There is heavy security deployment at all polling stations and other areas in the municipality. On Monday evening, chaos broke out after suspected supporters of Wadri allegedly pelted the president’s convoy with stones.
The driver of Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine, the Kyadondo East MP, Yasin Kawuma was gunned down in the fracas in the parking lot of Hotel Pacific in Arua town.