Court Orders Fresh Parliamentary Election in Aruu North

1948 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
Kidega, a member of the ruling National Resistance Movement NRM party lost the race to Lucy Achiro Otim, an independent candidate in the race that attracted five candidates, with a difference of two votes. She polled 8,599 votes against Kidegas 8,597, according to results released by Pader district returning officer Joseph Amone.

High Court in Gulu has ordered for fresh parliamentary elections in Aruu North Constituency, Pader district.

The decision, by Justice David Matovu, followed a petition filed by James Nabinson Kidega challenging the declaration of Aciro Lucy as the winner of the February 18 parliamentary election.

Kidega, a member of the ruling National Resistance Movement - NRM party lost the race to Lucy Achiro Otim, an independent candidate in the race that attracted five candidates, with a difference of two votes. She polled 8,599 votes against Kidega's 8,597, according to results released by Pader district Returning Officer Joseph Amone.

Kidega disputed the result and petitioned Kitgum Magistrate's Court to compel the Electoral Commission to conduct a vote recount on the basis that many of his valid votes were tallied as invalid.

But the recount was suspended after the ballot boxes were tampered with and destroyed by a mob that attacked police on February 29, the day they were expected in court for the exercise. Walter Okidi Ladwar, one of Kidega's lawyers, blamed Achiro and his lawyer Odonga Otto for deliberately destroying the ballot boxes with intention to disrupt the vote recount.

In today's ruling, Justice Matovu ruled that the destruction of voting materials denied Kidega justice through a recount.

He added that the dispute over results from Atanga Primary School, Wiakado Primary School, Laguti and Lapoya Okwe-Teatika Polling Stations could only be resolved with a vote recount which was not possible after the destruction of materials.

Justice Matovu however said that he could not verify if Aciro Lucy and Odonga Otto participated in destroying the ballot papers since Omona Joseph the Pader district registrar failed to disclose to court, details about the destruction.

"I therefore declare that the election of the first respondent as Member of Parliament for Aruu North is set aside and the 2nd Respondent should conduct fresh election for the directed Member of Parliament for his constituency'-Justice Matovu said.

He directed the Electoral Commission and Police to meet 50 percent of the costs to the suit for failing to ensure safe custody of all election materials.

Kidega's counsel Walter Ladwar welcomes the ruling saying it was the only option to delivery of justice.
 
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Similarly, Nabinson Kidega said the case was victory to the people of Aruu North.
 
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Odonga Otto Lawyer to Aciro Lucy said he will first consult his client and see the next move before making any statement.