May 31, 2018 – Voters in Rukingiri today woke up to a constituency under siege by security forces as by elections for Woman Member of Parliament kicked off.
Observers reported heavy deployment as the NRM, bitter after losing a gruelling by election in Jinja Municipality East earlier this year pulled all the stops to clawback the seat they lost after court nullified the results from a 2016 encounter.
Unverified pictures of military hardware including atleast one main battle tank and armoured personnel carriers claimed to be in Rukungiri have been circulating on social media.
Residents also reported heavy deployment of the army and military police, claims later proved by police. In a statement, police said it had called in sister security agencies to police the polls in both overt and covert formations.
“The by-election of Rukungiri Town Council members is going on smoothly. Uganda Police Forces and its sister Security Agencies are policing the exercise with focus on the following places with a history of electoral violence i.e Buyanja, Kebisooni, Nyarushanje Trading Centre, Rwerere Town Council, Bikurungu, and Bungagari Trading Centre.
“We have enhanced deployment of both overt and covert forces, deployed a standby public order management force at strategic locations to respond to any form of public disorder. We have deployed both static and mobile forces to guard offices of Electoral Commission, Tally centre, Polling stations, party offices and other vulnerable places,” the police statement read in part.
Tension has been building up in the area with the ruling party deploying its heavy weights including President Museveni himself in the area.
The by election in which candidates for the ruling NRM and the Forum for Democratic Change are the main contenders, was called after court nullified the 2016 contest over malpractices. The NRM has fielded Ms Winifred Masiko while the FDC has Ms Betty Muzanira as its flagbearer.