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TITBITS TO CAPRICIOUS CRITICS TRYING TO DISCREDIT UGANDA’S ELECTIONS

Sunday, August 28, 2022

In the past two weeks some fickle Ugandans have outdone themselves trying to discredit Uganda’s elections almost in its entirety comparing to Kenya where they have given a full clean bill of health, which shouldn’t pass unquestioned. Both Uganda and Kenya use similar laws and procedures for transparency and accountability in voter registration, polling, vote counting, tallying and declaration. If those polls were as transparent as sucking Ugandans want the public to believe, then Kenya shouldn’t be going through disputed polls including the current one where Raila Amolo Odinga, the runner-up is alleging fraud, irregularities, illegalities, a compromised IT system, and has petitioned the Supreme Court seeking nullification. 

The noticeable difference is that Uganda seems to have plenty of capricious actors often with ill and sometimes criminal intent during elections. In Uganda polling stations are open to candidates, registered agents, observers, media and public until votes are counted, tallied and results announced. It’s only final tallies for MP and president done at district and national tally centre. Therefore, anyone with capability can tally results although as noticed in Kenya, media houses and candidates couldn’t match-up, and had to rely on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). In Kenya it is rare to witness confrontation with police because actors respect the law.

Kenya’s past eight presidential elections since 1992 have been hotly disputed because of alleged irregularities, and sometimes illegalities proved in the Supreme Court as in 2017 when presidential result was nullified. In 2007 over 1200 people were killed in the violent aftermath, with thousands more fleeing to Uganda for asylum. These were hosted at Mulanda Technical College, Mulanda sub-county, Tororo district, and some are still in Kiryadongo district over 300km from Kenya. In 2016, then IEBC Chairperson, Ahmed Issack Hassan was hounded out for failing to deliver a credible election.

Samuel Kivuitu, who presided over 1997, 2002, elections, in 2007 held another controversial polls where he fled his office to State House, Nairobi from where he handed victory to incumbent President Emilio Mwai Kibaki whom he found with Chief Justice waiting to swear-in Kibaki, although Kivuitu had not publicly declared the results as required by law. As the violent protests violent against the apparent fraud spread nation-wide along sectarian lines, Kivuitu, walked back his declaration, famously stating “I do not know whether Kibaki won the election,” claiming he had been “pressurised” by people he didn’t disclose to go to State House and give victory to Kibaki. 

In the re-run  after the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice David Maraga nullified Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in 2017, Roselyn Akombe, a commissioner with IEBC fled to the US alleging intimidation and threats to her life. In her statement to media outlets she said “the commission in its current state can surely not guarantee a credible election. There is a very high likelihood the mistakes that some presiding officers made during the last election will be repeated.” She accused colleagues on the commission of “taking decisions along partisan lines without even discussing the different issues on merit,” accusations that have are dogging William Ruto’s declaration as winner. Akombe’s accusations came on the back of the assassination of IEBC’s head IT Chris Msando just before polls.

President Kenyatta and his deputy Ruto were very angrily at the annulment. At one campaign rallies for re-run Kenyatta asked people in Maranga’s home area to vote for him because he had given their son a job to which Maraga retorted that he wasn’t a ‘government project’. Feeling slighted Kenyatta then publicly stated “six people [the judges] have decided that they will go against the will of the people,” alleging, they had been “paid by foreigners and other fools”. Not done, Kenyatta added “Maraga and his thugs have decided to cancel the election. Now I am no longer the president-elect. I am the serving president…Maraga should know that he’s now dealing with the serving president.”  In that implied, the judiciary under Maraga faced budget cuts and snub including no senior official attended his retirement ceremony last year when he clocked 70 years of age.

In 2017, Wafula Chebukati, conceded, saying “I’ve made several attempts to make critical changes but all my motions have been defeated by a majority of the commissioners. Under such conditions, it’s difficult to guarantee a free, fair and credible election.” And many will recall that Odinga boycotted the re-run dubbing it a waste of time when the same IEBC was still in charge. Actually, Odinga said “The election (on 26 October) will be worse than the previous”.

Today, Chebukati is facing a storm by four commissioners out of six disagreeing with him over presidential results declaration. Chebukati admitted then, as today, that he has been pressure to fiddle with the results. In the annulled poll the margin between Kenyatta and Odinga was 1.4 million votes or 54% against 45%. Between that August and October, Human Rights groups said about 50 people were killed with police directly implicated in 33. So, as some Ugandans suck, these are considerations to ponder over