Uganda electoral commission denies polls were rigged

Opposition leaders tell Al Jazeera ballots were pre-ticked and results adjusted in contentious poll.


    Uganda's electoral commission has denied election results were rigged, after opposition leaders accused officials of pre-ticking ballot sheets and adjusting results after the long-time leader, Yoweri Museveni, won a fifth term in office.

    Jotham Taremwa, a spokesman for the electoral commission, told Al Jazeera on Friday that his office had not received any official complaints over allegations that ballots had been tampered with.

    "I never saw that, I never heard that; we have not received that complaint. So I thought there were enough checks and balances to ensure that nothing is done." 

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    One opposition candidate, Joy Kabatsi, who ran for parliament on an independent ticket, told Al Jazeera she found ruling party officials stuffing pre-ticked ballot papers into ballot boxes.

    Kabatsi also showed Al Jazeera examples of pre-ticked ballots she had found.

    A polling officer also told Al Jazeera that changes were made to ballots in full view of security forces. 

    "We got them changing the declaration form in the presence of the inspector-general of the district. The police were there, soldiers were there. In fact, they were protecting those ones who were changing the declaration. So we entered there by force; they decide to cock the gun on us," he said on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

    On Tuesday, the electoral commission ruled that Yoweri Museveni had won a fifth term in the polls. It is a decision opposition supporters say they will not accept.

    Kizza Besigye, Museveni's main opposition rival, was arrested several times in the lead-up to voting, and afterwards, when he and his supporters attempted to protest the results. On Saturday, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party leader remained under house arrest.


    Following the announcement of Museveni's victory, the United Nations human rights office expressed concern over Uganda's "tense" post-election situation.

    The UN's statement came after reports emerged of least two deaths and an unknown number of people injured in election-related violence.

    Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) spokesperson Cecile Pouilly said the UN was concerned about an "intimidating display of force" used by Ugandan police and military forces on opposition supporters.

    "We remind the government of Uganda of its obligations under international human rights law not to unduly restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assembly," Pouilly said.

    Foreign observers have also said the polls were not free or fair.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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