Voting suspended at four polling stations in Oyam

Voting was halted on Thursday at four polling stations in the Oyam North parliamentary byelection due to allegations of electoral malpractices and irregularities. The Electoral Commission has announced that new voting materials will be dispatched to these affected polling stations, located in Otwal sub-county, to allow voters there to cast their ballots.

According to Richard Onoba, the Oyam district returning officer, the suspended polling stations are Wang Lobo P.7, Bar Omele, Acokara P.7, and Piyic. He confirmed that the voting process will be restarted at these locations and investigations are underway regarding the reported intrusion at these polling stations.

Meanwhile, tensions escalated between officials from opposing political camps. Jimmy Akena, the president of the opposition Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party, engaged in a verbal confrontation with Dr. Tanga Odoi, the electoral chairperson of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), at the Wang Lobo P.7 polling station. Security personnel intervened and restrained them after their exchange lasted approximately 20 minutes.

Akena alleged that unidentified gunmen disrupted the voting process, intimidated voters, and confiscated mobile phones belonging to polling agents. Dr. Tanga Odoi urged the Electoral Commission to invalidate the votes cast during the altercation and arrange for fresh elections.

The timing for the resumption of voting at the affected polling stations has not been announced yet.

Additionally, Kennedy Odongo, the chairperson of Aleptong district who was overseeing the byelection, reported that three men dressed in army uniforms were arrested by the police for allegedly interfering with the voting process at the Bar Omele polling station. The police responded swiftly and took the individuals into custody.

Jimmy Patrick Okema, the spokesperson for the North Kyoga Region Police, stated that the police were on high alert to prevent any further disruptions during the election.

As for the overall outcome of the byelection, the voters of Oyam North participated in the democratic process at 167 polling stations across the constituency, except for the four stations where voting was disrupted. The winner of this byelection will fill the parliamentary seat left vacant by the late Charles Okello Engola, who passed away two months prior. Engola, who also served as the state minister of labor, was fatally shot by his bodyguard at his residence in Kyanja, Kampala on May 2.

Among the candidates vying for the seat, Samuel Engola Junior, the son of the late Charles Okello Engola, represents the National Resistance Movement (NRM). His competitors include Dr. Eunice Apio Otuko from the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), Freddy Newton Okello from the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), and Daniel Okello from the National Unity Platform (NUP).

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