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Rain Disrupts Vote Counting in Kampala

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The rains started a few minutes after 4 p.m. as stations closed the exercise, which was rather poorly attended. Polling officials in Nakawa and Makindye rushed to secure the ballot boxes in nearby shelters, from the open space where polling was conducted, all day long.
Polling officials at Kitebi Primary School seek shelter during the evening rains
Heavy rains have disrupted vote-counting in polling stations located in open fields, within Kampala.

The rains started a few minutes after 4 p.m. as stations closed the exercise, which was rather poorly attended. Polling officials in Nakawa and Makindye rushed to secure the ballot boxes in nearby shelters, from the open space where polling was conducted, all day long.

At Kisaasi Muslim Secondary School where five polling stations are hosted, counting was interrupted as the polling officials transferred to the classrooms from the open fields, while counting was suspended for more than 30 minutes at Batalanzi’s building polling station which is located in Kasaana parish, Kulambiro.

At Kyanja view primary school, where vote counting had started taking place the voters and officials fled to the school building, leaving them congested. Many polling stations that were located near shops huddled together in the shops with the ballot boxes. At several polling stations, there was military and police deployment to protect the ballot boxes.

At St Mbaaga Polling station in Kiwatule, hundreds of voters were packed in the only empty school facilities including the kitchen in a bid to witness the counting. By 6 p.m, several polling stations were still counting votes.

Ahmed Ndaula, a Polling Assistant at the area says that the rain saw many of the voters run away for shelter.  “As you can see there are a handful of voters here during vote counting, but many of them simply left when it started raining,” Ndaula said.

A section of voters and agents in Nakawa Division expressed fear and suspicion that the rain could facilitate vote-rigging. At one of the polling centres, polling officers got a tarpaulin and covered themselves inside, while agents and a few voters watched at a distance.

Later, the polling officers, security and agents transferred the materials including the boxes of ballot papers to a nearby Division Hall for counting to continue. There were five polling stations that also sought shelter in the same hall.

Ronald Kisambwe an agent of one of the candidates told URN that he was suspicious of what transpired during the process of transferring materials from the polling station to the Division Hall.

Annet Kaggwa, the presiding official at Mbuya Church of Uganda Primary School polling station says that vote counting will continue once the rains stop.

“This process needs to be done when everyone is seeing. We normally do it in the compound. We had finished counting the councillor votes and were going to the Lord Mayor ones. When the rain stops we shall continue,” she said.

At Homisdallen Primary School located in Kawempe, polling assistants looked for extra umbrellas to shield them from the rain. While some polling agents demanded that voting continues, others sought that the process is halted because the ballots would be spoilt with fading ink, as soon as water sprinkled on them.

However, the rain intensified forcing polling Assistants and agents to flee polling stations to school verandas. They resumed vote-counting after close to 15 minutes. At Katale zone, they had nowhere to run to and instead, used Umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain. Others partially braved it to protect the ballots from getting wet.

Some polling stations like TLC leisure centre (NAL-O) in Kamwokya,  the polling officials were seen struggling to find shelter for the ballots and other documents. They were helped by the nearby boda-boda stage kiosk to shelter the materials.  The other polling station TLC leisure Centre (P-Z) kept the boxes in a security unit at a nearby school.    

Ester Birungi a polling official who spoke to Uganda Radio Network said they were waiting for the rain to come down and resume counting.  “We are still waiting for the rain to reduce because this space is too small for the process to continue, but if the rain doesn’t stop the polling agents will have to stand outside in the rain so that we can have space for the continuation of the counting”.    

The disruptions, however, worried some voters. At Kabaawo polling station and Tinkabell Nursery School both in Rubaga South, voters raised concern about the safety of the ballots.  But many of them could also not withstand the downpour and run for dear life, as the rains intensified.

An estimated 1.2 million voters were expected to cast their votes in the ongoing local government election. However low voter turn-up has been experienced in different parts of the city. Polling station such as Kinawataka Mujjambula’s place only had 60 voters cast their votes out of the expected 600 on the EC register.  

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