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Muteesa I Royal University Guild Elections Halted

The violence erupted after allegations that the University administration was rigging polls for Trust Kirya, the National Resistance Movement-NRM party candidate in the race which attracted four candidates.
Police dispersing chaotic students at the polling station during aborted Muteesa guild polls

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Guild elections at Muteesa I Royal University in Kirumba-Masaka have been halted following an outbreak of violence.

The violence erupted after allegations that the University administration was rigging polls for Trust Kirya, the National Resistance Movement-NRM party candidate in the race which attracted four candidates. The others are independent candidate Milly Amanyire, Wilson Okecho, a member of the Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party and Jackson Kasujja, the Democratic Party candidate.

However, three of the four candidates accuse Florence Nampijja, the Dean of Students at the Buganda Kingdom founded institution, of manipulating the register to allow non-eligible students to vote. Angry students stormed the polling station at the main university block and confiscated voting materials sparking off a fight among students.

Wilson Okecho, the FDC candidate notes that while the election guidelines stipulate that only students who have paid up to 40 percent of the tuition fees and 100 percent of functional fees should appear on the voters register, a number of those without the stated requirements were allowed to cast votes.

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Milly Amanyire, the Independent candidate says the bending of guild election rules means the administration is biased.

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Anti-riot police led by Masaka District Police Commander John Mwaule rushed to the scene and stopped the process, which had turned chaotic.

Hilim Ssentongo, the University Electoral Commission Chairperson confirmed the confusion saying that a different register indicating a total of 400 instead of the 70 eligible voters had surfaced on polling day. Ssentongo notes that some people who are not students stormed the polling station and demanded voting rights.

Florence Nampijja, the Dean of Students dismissed the allegations as baseless. She claims that by 1April 18 they had only 70 students who qualified to take part in the polls but the number increased when more students paid. Nampijja says only one student who had not paid had erroneously appeared on the register.

Police, candidates and the university administration are currently held up in the meeting to resolve the impasse as polling is halted.

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