The Chief Magistrate, Charles Yeitesi, who had issued a vote recount order on Monday declined to continue with the exercise after it emerged that the seal on one of the ballot boxes delivered in court was broken.
Masaka Chief Magistrate’s Court has thrown a vote recount
application for the Kalungu East parliamentary election filed by the incumbent
legislator and Agriculture Minister, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja.
magistrate, Charles Yeitesi, who had issued a vote recount order on Monday
declined to continue with the exercise after it emerged that the seal on one of the
ballot boxes delivered in court was broken.
Yeitesi had issued the vote recount order following claims
by Ssempijja that he was robbed of his victory and handed to his National Unity
Platform-NUP rival, Francis Katabaazi Katongole. Ssempijja polled 10,865
votes against his rival’s 12,198 votes.
He, however, alleged in his petition
that the vote tallying was marred with numerical errors in favour of his
opponent. Through his lawyers led by Ntambirweki Kandeebe, Ssempijja also alleged many of
his polling agents were not allowed to witness the vote counting exercise,
arguing that some of his votes could have been interchanged and given to his
He also told the court that he had received reports from his
agents and supporters indicating that some Presiding Officers did not tally his
results correctly at polling stations, which necessitated a vote recount to
correct the anomalies that cost him victory.
Katabaazi through his lawyers led by John Chrysostom Katumba raised objection
to the vote recount order and also filed an appeal in High Court. They also
applied for an interim order for stay of the vote recount in vain.
As a result, on Tuesday morning, Ann Namatovu, the Kalungu
District Returning Officer delivered 36 ballots boxes before the Chief
Magistrate’s court for a vote recount.
However, as the magistrate embarked on
the vote recount exercise, it was discovered that one of the ballot boxes had a
broken seal, an indication that it was tampered with before delivery. Besides the broken seal, the court also observed glaring
variations between the orange and pink seals used on the ballot boxes raising
more suspicion on their integrity.
The returning officer tried to explain the variations, but Yeitesi
decided to stop the recount on grounds that he was not of the integrity of the
results. Katabaazi told journalists outside court that he was destined for a second victory
in court after defeating the Minister in a democratic process.
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//Cue in: “ababbi n’ebanika….
Ssempijja declined to comment about the court verdict, but his
lead lawyer Kandeebe said they will consult on their next course of action.