The FDC mayoral candidate in Arua, Swale Buga, blames the low voter turn up in today's elections on poor civic education.
In an interview conducted shortly after Buga cast his vote at the Old Taxi Park polling station in Arua town, the candidate said he was disappointed in the small numbers of people lining up for the elections. He accused the Electoral Commission of not drumming up enough attention to the mayoral and lower local council elections.
Buga said that given the low numbers, the outcome of today's elections will not reflect the wishes of the majority of people in Arua. He said it is his belief that many people consider the Electoral Commission to be biased when it comes to areas where the NRM does not have majority support.
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Swaleh Buga is the FDC coordinator for the West Nile and he currently serves as LC5 Councilor for Arua Hill Division.
Juma Bakhit, the Uganda People's Congress mayoral candidate, shares Buga's sentiments regarding the elections. Bakhit says that should he lose today's vote, he will go to court for redress. He says he will put the Electoral Commission to task for the limited voter education conducted before the polls.
The Arua returning officer, Rose Atima, says the complaints on voter education are baseless. She says the Electoral Commission did its part to encourage people to vote, but the decision on whether to participate was left to individuals.
The Arua mayoral elections attracted five candidates. The presumed forerunner is the incumbent mayor, Charles Asiki of the NRM.
Asiki's term of office is a highly contested one. It has been plagued by accusations of corruption and institutional weakness.
Askiki is specifically accused of turning a blind eye to fraud occurring among civil servants in the municipality. Particular attention has been given to claims of illegal sale of public land and botched tendering of school construction projects.
Despite this, his campaigns received wide support. It is assumed that this is the result of the presence of presidential advisor, General Salim Saleh, who has been camped in the West Nile since the presidential elections.
Saleh is officially in the region to pay former army and rebel combatants their retirement and resettlement packages. It is alleged that while there, he also paid large sums of money to ad hoc women's, youth and farmers' groups.
Opposition candidates say the distribution of money is what helped sway the presidential elections in Yoweri Museveni's favor two weeks ago.
Other candidates in the Arua mayoral race are Abdulkazi Tipele of the Justice Forum, Nasur Kafu of the Democratic Party and Dudu Andaku, an independent candidate.
arua mayoral elections