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Three Injured in Aruu North Election Violence

More than 25 people are in custody at Pader Central Police Station after being involved in election-related violence in the ongoing Aruu North parliamentary by-election. Three people were injured, one critically.
A voter casts his ballot at Atanga Health Centre IV polling station.
More than 25 people are in custody at Pader Central Police Station after being involved in election-related violence in the ongoing Aruu North parliamentary by-election.

A Uganda Radio Network reporter in Pader says the 25 were picked up by police from Angagura Sub County shortly after a scuffle that broke out between supporters of NRM party candidate James Nabinson Kidega and those of Independent candidate Lucy Aciro Otim.

The scuffle happened at Ayweri village, some 500 metres off the Gulu-Kitgum Highway.

It is unclear what caused the fighting, but residents say three vehicles whose numbers couldn't be identified came speeding from the direction of Atanga Sub County, flushing double indicators and branched off towards Ayweri village in a manner they described as a chase. One of the vehicles was a tipper lorry with occupants on board, estimated to be about 10.

At Ayweri village, according to eyewitnesses, the vehicles stopped and the occupants of the first vehicle attacked those of the second vehicle. Three people were injured, one critically.

Margaret Achiro, 43, one of the victims is being treated for injured ribs at Atanga Health Centre Three. Achiro told URN that she and her husband, Francis Oryema, were injured as they pleaded with those fighting to stop. “We pleaded with them to sop because we are one people. We should not kill each other,” she said.

Achiro says it is then that one of those fighting picked a tree log and hit her.

Gulu District Police Commander Martin Okoyo, one of the hundreds of police officers currently in Aruu North, says the police arrived at Ayweri when the fighting had stopped. Okoyo did not give details on how the suspects were identified.

Chagga Oyat, a mobiliser for Achiro says local residents helped the police by conducting citizen arrests of the 25 suspects he claims were also involved in voter intimidation.

Voting started late in some polling stations after delays by the election officials to bring materials on time. The electoral process was scheduled to start at 7am close at 4pm but at some polling stations voting had not started 45 minutes into the exercise. Security and man power has been heightened by arrival of police officers and Electoral Commission officials from neighbouring districts.

A URN reporter visited at least six polling stations in Atanga and Angagura sub counties where the voter turn up was also still low.

At Ogom Primary School polling station, only 38 people had cast their ballots by 9:30am out of 458 registered voters.

The Aruu North seat fell vacant in February following a Court of Appeal ruling that upheld an earlier ruling by the High Court which overturned the election of Independent candidate Lucy Achiro Otim for non-compliance to electoral laws.

On February 6th, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Electoral Commission failed to conduct a vote recount requested by NRM party candidate James Nabinson Kidega.

Kidega who lost to Achiro by two votes petitioned court for a recount. Achiro had polled 8,599 votes against Kidega's 8,597, according to results released by Pader district returning officer Joseph Omona.

Seven candidates are in the race, including five Independents.

They include Nabinson James Kidega for NRM and Onen Bernard Ologi for the Democratic Party (DP). Those nominated as independent candidates are Lucy Achiro Otim, Justin Boswell Oryema, Henry Komakech Banya, David Ojera and Francis Nyero Helton Lakile.

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