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Fear of Victimization Turns Away Voters in Bukedea, Pader

In Nyakoi Village in Kachumbala Sub County, more than three quarters of the registered voters failed to turn to vote this morning. Some of the voters at the polling station said they fear for the aftermath of the elections since lining up exposes one’s choice.
Voters lining up in Bukedea.

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Fear for being victimized has pushed away voters in the NRM party primaries in Bukedea District.

In July, the Central Executive Committee (CEC), the supreme organ of the NRM rejected the secret ballot arrangement and supported lining up to ensure transparency and credibility of the electoral process.

In Nyakoi Village in Kachumbala Sub County, more than three-quarters of the registered voters failed to turn to vote this morning. Some of the voters at the polling station said they fear for the aftermath of the elections since lining up exposes one’s choice.

Moses Emeri, the village Registrar in Nyakoi says only 133 people turned to vote out of 606 registered members in the village. He explains that some people approached him complaining that voting might cost them, especially if their candidates fail.

“Most people preferred secret ballot to line up because no one would follow you after the polls. Some of them took money off the aspirants yet they don’t want to vote for them. That’s why a good number has abstained from lining up this morning”, he said.

Sarah Ajulo, a resident in Kachumbala says many of the candidates have approached her and the family soliciting for votes. She explains that in most cases, every candidate donates something small to the family to bribe them, a situation making it hard for them to line up for one in the presence of many other people.

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Beatrice Ikiring, another voter in Bukedea says lining up is likely to cause conflicts in the villages, which could stir violence, especially among couples and relatives.

But Patrick Inguma, a voter in Bukedea Town Council says lining up is a transparent process which helps in identifying moles in the party. He explains that with the open lining up process, candidates get to know their genuine supporters.

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In Pader town council, voters criticized the method of lining up.

Dickson Okello, a voter says that he still has many enemies from the LCI elections and fears to create even more, by revealing his choice of candidate in the primaries.

Cecilia Apoko Olal, on the other hand, fears that after elections, there could cases of assault and violence as people take revenge against one another for supporting different candidates.

In Gulu, some polling stations in the districts only a handful of voters turned up for the exercise by midday.

At Sun Light Primary School, Paibona Primary School, Aleda Primary School, Bombayo Main Market and Acut Omer voting centres in Gulu district less than 20 people had turned up out of the 250 registered voters.

In Amuru at Labongogali market polling station, only 30 people out of the registered 150 voters had turned up. At Lacaro Primary School voting station only 27 people out of the 90 registered voters had reported by midday.

Nyeko Caesar the returning officer at Labongogali market polling station says that some voters are unwilling to show up for the exercise at early hours.

Several polling stations were also observing the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures which include wearing of masks, social distancing and sanitizing.