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Delays Stir Chaos as Ugandans Vote Local Councils

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Around Kisekka Market in downtown Kampala, less than 100 voters have so far been verified from a register of more than 1000 people. Verification started at 10:30 a.am but has been halted several times because of the chaotic crowd around the polling centres.
Mbale voters become rowdy

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Delays in the verification of voters in some parts of the country have triggered chaotic scenes as Ugandans go to the polls, to vote for local council leaders.

Around Kisekka Market in downtown Kampala, less than 100 voters have so far been verified from a register of more than 1000 people. Verification started at 10:30 a.am but has been halted several times because of the chaotic crowd around the polling centres.

A large gathering of youth, largely male, who turned up to participate in the voting process, have not heeded to appeals to line up as they wait for verification. Police have been heavily deployed to avert any chaotic scenes in the area. 

In Kitubulu Zone, Entebbe Municipality, hundreds of voters had converged at Entebbe UMEA Primary School by 7:00 am. However, emotions started running high, prompting the election officials to call in the police who rushed to the area in two patrol pickups. The elections are marred by organisational and logistical challenges.

The election officials are painstakingly reading names of voters who, when verified by checking the voter's cards, are issued with a voting coupon with the Electoral Commission seal. Several polling stations URN visited had majority voters not yet verified by close to midday.

Matters are worsened by the small megaphones that are not loud enough to overwhelm the din created by the voters.

At Nsambya Central Zone polling station hundreds of voters have been stranded since morning due to the absence of electoral officers at the station. The first Electoral commission official arrived at 10:30 a.m. more than two hours after the scheduled start of the verification exercise.

According to one of the candidates John Laban Akampurira, a member of the Democratic Party, the delay is likely to discourage the voters, some of whom arrived at the polling station as early as 7 a.m.

"If they had come in time, now we would be ready to vote but, by the time they finish verification it may be 2 pm," Akampurira said. Nsambya Central zone has a total number of 1010 registered voters.

Meanwhile, in Mbale, hundreds of voters who turned up for the polls found their names missing from the village registers.  The most affected polling station is Bugema A in Mbale Municipality, where Security has been heavily deployed to tame angry voters.

Denis Wandera, the presiding officer, Bugema A says that the trouble is mainly stemming from individuals with National Identity Cards, whose names do not appear on the village registers who became chaotic and demanded that the records on the village registers should be ignored.

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Meya Bola, a voter in Bugema A insists that only those whose names are in the register be allowed to vote.

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But persons who possess National Identity cards and are known residents of the place are also saying demanding that they are allowed to vote adding that the omission of their names from the registers tantamount to disenfranchisement.

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Chaotic scenes were also seen in Bugwere, Namayonyi cell, Kasanvu cell and some cells in Nkoma ward among others.