NRM candidate, Winfred Matsiko casting her vote.

Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) says security is tight much as it has deployed its observers to monitor the Rukungiri district woman MP by-election in all the 16 sub counties, town councils and divisions.

Although the campaigns ended without serious incidents, CCEDU says the district remains a sea of security personnel and equipment. “Security remains generally very tight as per this morning – May 31, 2018,” it says in its press release.

Observers say several roadblocks have been mounted at specific entry and exit points of Rukungiri district. For instance, last night, roadblocks were erected at Buyanja (Omukiragiro) on Ntugamo-Rukungiri road and at Nyakibaare at the junction of Nyarushanje and Nyakishenyi sub counties. The roadblocks are being manned by military Police.

“From the on-set, this by-election can be described as a highly securitized affair especially judging from the number of senior military officers present and active in the district as well as the level of deployment of the rank and file security personnel,” the NGO says.

FDC candidate Betty Bamukwatsa talking to the media after casting her vote.

Apparently the Electoral Commission (EC) itself is trying to manage an ostensibly overbearing security apparatus to ensure that voters exercise their franchise in a reasonably calm environment without undue interference or intimidation. The observers on the ground say it is certainly not going to be an easy job for any of the election stakeholders considering the high stakes in this by-election.

The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) is determined to retain the district seat but Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and the opposition seem resolved to marshal against an evidently tumultuous environment to clinch yet another seat in Parliament.

Rukungiri district has 16 sub counties, 87 parishes, 280 polling stations and 177,086 registered voters.

There are four (4) candidates vying for the Rukungiri District Woman MP position: Winfred Matsiko (NRM), Betty Muzanira (FDC), Fabith Kukundakwe (PPP) and Prisca Sezi Mbaguta (independent). Two (2) independent candidates: Atukunda Sheilla and Rwakitonera Elizabeth withdrew from the race days to the polling date, citing financial reasons.

Observers are paying keen attention to three (3) of the 16 sub counties including: Nyakishenyi, Nyarushanje and Bwambara, which are said to be potential hotspots, based on occurrences in previous elections.

Unlike in previous by-elections of this nature, delivery of polling materials to the furthest sub counties of: Bikurungu town council, Nyakishenyi sub county, Bwambara sub county and Nyarushanje sub county was done yesterday (30thMay) to ensure that materials are at polling stations in time to allow for opening of polling stations at the designated 7:00am hour.

Today, EC begun dispatching polling materials to the other 12 sub counties at around 4:00am and by 6:00am, the process had been almost completed. Polling materials were being transported from the Rukungiri district EC offices.