Demgroup Declares 2011 Elections Peaceful, but Highly Flawed

Peaceful, but flawed. That is the prognosis of the just-ended presidential and parliamentary elections by the monitoring organization, Democracy Group. John Mary Odoi, the acting director of Democracy Group - or Demgroup as it is more commonly called - has said there was widespread voting of bribers throughout Uganda. He told a news conference in Kampala that this malpractice was most prevalent in on Election Day in Kalangala, Sembabule, Mbale and Sironko. Odoi said these five districts were also noted for considerable violence in the elections. In Kalangala, there was chaos on the eve of the elections when police stormed a discotheque in Musonzi village, which is in Kyamuswa. The police were acting on a tip off that bribes were being handed to people there late in the night. The Kalangala District Police Commander, Godfrey Matte, said several people were injured when the police shot in the air to disperse the crowd. Independent reports claim that one man, a member of the Forum for Democratic Change, was accidentally shot in the fracas. The police deny this claim. This morning, violence continued in the island district when a crowd attacked supporters of the incumbent Bujumba County MP Fred Badda for distributing money at a polling station. Several people were injured in that incident in Bumanji in Mugoye sub-county. In Sironko the incumbent MP for Budadiri West, Nathan Nandala Mafabi, was caught in a fight between his camp and alleged supporters of his rival, the State Minister for the Presidency Beatrice Wabudeya. Julius Odeke, a journalist, was shot and wounded in the fracas and 11 other people were seriously injured. In Mbale district, armed men traveling in a coaster bus and a Toyota Ipsum attacked Maluku DS and Nabijo polling stations, beat up presiding officials and stole two ballot boxes. The men were tracked down and the ballot boxes were retrieved and taken to Mbale Central Police Station. No one was arrested in that incident. John Mary Odoi said cases of electoral fraud were also noted in President Yoweri Museveni's district of Kiruhura. He said that in one incident, Demgroup observers saw pre-ticked ballot papers stuffed into ballot boxes. In Sembabule, voting at some polling stations reportedly begun as early as 5 a.m. A similar case was reported at Summit View polling station in Kampala, which was populated by soldiers guarding Kololo Hill. Odoi said the Demgroup observers tried to keep in touch with their headquarters throughout the day to report cases of malpractice. However, towards the end of the polls, SMS communication shut down. Odoi said he believes that this was a deliberate move on the part of Uganda Telecom, the Demgroup service provider, and government to stop the free flow of information about the elections. ###