Vote counting has started in Uganda after late start of the keenly contested presidential polls due to late distribution of election materials.
According to Africanews correspondent in Uganda, Raziah Athman, the process was scheduled to start at 7:00am and end at 4:00pm (local time) but the schedule was hardly achieved as many polling stations in the city and upcountry did not receive their polling material in time.
“Others started voting as late as 2:00pm. The chairperson of the Electoral Commission said they didn’t have enough trucks to deliver in time,” she said.
“At places like Kibuli, the electoral materials got in by 2:00pm And I kept on wondering whether the EC would beat the time of 4:00pm and that pushed people to demonstrate because they were not seeing the voting materials yet they were there as early as 4:00am according to what some told me. I felt that was a weakness because this is Kampala, next to EC,” Ugandan Journalist Jimmy Siya told Africanews’ Raziah Athman.
Tebyaza Fiona, a polling officer in Kampala said: “In the morning we delayed because some materials delayed to come but it was okay up to 4:00pm. Though some people came and complained about our time management.”
The delay has been described by the head of the Commonwealth observer team in Uganda, Olusegun Obasanjo, as ‘inexcusable’.
An impressive voter turn out was reportedly recorded countrywide despite a few security issues as Police arrested at least fifty people disturbing the peace.
“The situation in most of Kampala was generally calm except for a few places where voters led demonstrations demanding their ballot papers be brought in,” Athman reported.
It is early to tell what the outcome might be but the race is closest between Museveni and Besigye and the Electoral Commission has promised to announce the results between 2:00pm and 4:00pm local time on Saturday, February 20.
The incumbent, Yoweri Museveni, in his speech after casting his vote in Rushere, said: “anybody else who tries to announce the results (other than EC), we shall dismantle him.”
Meanwhile, main opposition candidate, Kizza Besigye, who cast his vote in Kanungu, western part of the country, was briefly detained by the police at a house he suspected of being a center of a vote rigging operation.
His brief arrest has been condemned by the U.S. State Department spokesman, John Kirby, who said the action “calls into question Uganda’s commitment to a transparent and free election process, free from intimidation.”