By Nangayi Guyson
Kampala, Uganda– Uganda’s ruling party NRM candidate Rehema Watongola was last evening declared winner of Kamuli Municipality MP seat beating the FDC candidate, Ms Salaamu Musumba in a hotly contested chaotic by-elections.
Ms Watongola garnered 8,726 votes while her closest challenger, Ms Musumba got 5,778 votes in a by-election married with violence.
Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate Proscovia Salaam Musumba seemed to have ostensibly conceded defeat and promised to find a way forward Easter holiday.
“This has not been an election but a war between civilian and the coercive government. I will talk to myself and decide the next course of action after the Easter holiday.” Musumba said.
Ms Watongola won Kamuli Municipality MP seat in 2016 general elections but was taken to court by Ms. Salaam Musumba who won an election Petition after court nullified election results over lack of academic papers rendering the seat vacant leading to a by-elections.
Ms Wantongole later got the papers and was cleared by her party and EC to contest again.
Other candidates in the race were Prossy Naikoba (169 votes), Samuel Walujo (63), and Michael Kiboome (103 votes). The trio was independent.
Chaos was reported in earlier when both camps accused each other for planning attacks. Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) supporters accuse police of protecting those involved in voter bribery.
Three people including a police officer and FDC supporters who are yet to be identified were reportedly injured and admitted to hospital.
FDC was allegedly blocked by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) supporters and beaten up. Confrontations between the two camps was reported at several other polling stations.
There were also unverified allegations that mobilisers of respective candidates, including local leaders were moving from home to home distributing money and other items to voters.
But the Chairperson of Electoral Commission (EC) Simon Byabakama Mugenyi, praised the process calling it “a smooth by-election” that defied prophets of doom.
“There have been fears that the exercise will not be successful but thanks to God that good has prevail over evil…The exercise went on smoothly and to the expectation of voters of Kamuli people,” Justice Byabakama said.
Although EC boss praised “the calmness” in Kamuli by-election, by press time, a least 10 people were believed to be in police custody on various charges, including intimidation and bribery.
According to the police the arrests were made hours before 4pm when most polling stations stopped voting as required by the law.
Police spokesperson for Busoga North Michael Kasadha, told a Uganda’s daily monitor newspaper that the arrest of the 10 suspects was professionally executed without bias to any of the contestants.
“They were either intimidating or bribing people to vote for their candidates,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Musumba was arrested at Kamuli Police Station where she had gone to report an assault case, after she was found transporting weapons in her car that included bows and arrows, a knife, catapults among others.
At the police station, Ms Musumba maintained the weapons were for self defence and would only be used as per “President Museveni’s directive”.
She was later on released without being charged, although police said after the election, they would pursue the case.
Asked in a televised interview on this, Musumba said she wasn’t scared, adding that she was only protecting herself.
“It’s okay they can arrest me. I was only guarding myself from being killed. Do you want me to be killed like Kaweesi? The police kill themselves, what about me?”
Mrs Watongola, while commenting on the exercise, attributed her victory to God.
“Who I am?” she said. “God is good. It was not easy.”
Watongola dismissed accusations that she bribed the voters and that her people assaulted FDC supporters as seen earlier in the day.
“It was my people who have been beaten since the start of the campaign. Even now she (Musumba) beat us, but God showed us grace.
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