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Uganda Electoral Commission Rejects ‘Ghost’ Voter Allegation

  • Peter Clottey

Forum for Democratic Change opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye displays pre-marked ballot papers, during a news conference at party headquarters in Kampala Uganda, February 19, 2011

Forum for Democratic Change opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye displays pre-marked ballot papers, during a news conference at party headquarters in Kampala Uganda, February 19, 2011

An official of Uganda’s electoral commission has rejected a report which suggests that nearly 2,000 polling stations across the country had ballot boxes with more votes than the number of people who voted in the February 18 presidential and parliamentary election.

Charles Willy Ochola, commission spokesman, described the report to VOA as unfortunate adding that the opposition has yet to officially challenge the outcome, although it did characterize the election result as a sham.

“So far, we have not received any communication from the opposition about the outcome of the election. All what we have been receiving are the preliminary observer reports,” said Ochola.

“That was a very unfortunate statement because the Democracy Group was involved in the exercises for mobilizing the people to go and update themselves on the national voters’ register. We are surprised that even the raw data which we gave them, they still could not give us concrete statistics about the number of people they call ‘ghosts’ because, in the commission’s point of view, there were no ghost voters,” he added.

In a report released Monday, Uganda’s Democracy Monitoring Group, a poll observer organization, said there was clear evidence of “ghost” voters which it said accounted for the more ballot papers found in the ballot box than voters who actually voted.

Meanwhile, the European Union observers noted that polling officers were ill-trained and that many ballot boxes were left unsealed contrary to election regulations.

Ochola said the electoral commission discounted challenges during the vote, but contends that the problems did not affect the credibility of last Friday’s vote.

“We are very sorry about what took place in the election timetable, especially on polling day. We did receive manpower from among the public and, after their recruitment, we trained them on what to do. But, that was not the best training that they should have gotten,” said Ochola.

The opposition rejected the outcome of the election saying the electoral commission is biased towards President Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, a charge ruling party supporters deny.

This is the second election in Uganda since the return of multi-party politics. The first was in 2006 after a referendum in 2005 that returned the country to multiparty politics and removed presidential term limits.

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