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June 23, 2024
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Oyam North Election: Armed Men Hold Presiding Officer at Gunpoint

Oyam, Uganda – Chaos erupted at the Wang Lobo polling station in Otwal sub-county, Oyam district, as unidentified armed men stormed the premises, holding the presiding officer at gunpoint. Eyewitnesses reported that these armed individuals forcibly marked certain ballot papers, raising concerns over the integrity of the ongoing election.

According to reports, the armed men ticked five booklets containing a total of 250 ballots while keeping the presiding officer, Walter Wacho, under their control. The opposition parties have accused the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) of engaging in ballot stuffing, as the armed men marked the papers. Wacho, visibly shocked, explained that he had no choice but to surrender the booklets to the men. They then returned to their vehicle, marked the ballot papers, and instructed him to handle the accountability process.

Wacho narrated the ordeal, stating, “I had no option but to give them five booklets. They went back to their vehicle and ticked the ballot papers, brought back 250 pre-ticked ballot papers, and told me to do the accountability thing.”

Jimmy Patrick Okema, the North Kyoga Region Police spokesperson, claimed that no official report had been received regarding the incident. He urged all parties involved to make a formal complaint to the authorities. Meanwhile, amidst the ongoing allegations of voter bribery and violence in the constituency, the police have arrested two individuals on suspicion of voter bribery.

Jimmy Akena, the president of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), has demanded a fresh election in the affected polling station. Akena expressed concern over the impounding of UPC motorbikes deployed to escort the ballot boxes to the polling stations, deeming the action suspicious. He criticized the lack of attention given to the presence of NRM supporters camped at a closed petrol station at 2 a.m. and the reported assault of polling agents in Iceme Town Council.

The four candidates contesting the Oyam North election include Dr. Eunice Apio Otuko of the UPC, Samuel Engola Okello (son of the late minister) representing the NRM, Daniel Okello from the National Unity Platform (NUP), and Newton Freddy Okello of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

It is worth noting that the polling materials were stored at the Oyam District headquarters prior to the start of the election. The people of Oyam North are today exercising their democratic right to elect their next Member of Parliament. The elected representative will succeed the late Charles Engola, former state minister for labor, who tragically lost his life in May of this year after being shot by one of his own bodyguards.

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