Under a cloud of violence, Arua voters head to the polls

Tuesday August 14 2018

A past election in Uganda. Voters in Arua will be electing their Member of Parliament in a by-election on August 15, 2018. PHOTO | AFP


Voters in Arua Municipality in northwestern Uganda head to the polls on Wednesday to elect their Member of Parliament after the seat fell vacant following the assassination of Ibrahim Abiriga of the ruling party in June.

But to replace the fallen leader, a trail of blood has followed the high-stakes campaign with 12 candidates vying for the post.

In the run-up to vote, MP Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, was arrested after violence rocked the last day of the by-election campaign in which security officers shot his driver dead.

In the melee, the rear screen of a car in President Yoweri Museveni’s motorcade was shattered in what police say was an attack by opposition supporters.

One of the candidates, Mr Kassiano Wadri, an independent opposition-leaning politician, was arrested and is likely to face treason charges.

NTV Uganda journalists Herbert Zziwa and Ronald Muwanga were also arrested as they aired live the incident in Arua town, some 470km from the capital Kampala on Monday. They have been charged with inciting violence but have been released on bail.


“Scores of suspects have been arrested including the following; candidate Kassiano Wadri, MPs Paul Mwiru, Robert Sentamu Kyagulanyi, Gerald Karuhanga…” said police spokesperson Emilian Kayima in a statement to the media.

The stakes have been high not only for the ruling NRM party that is keen to reclaim the Arua Municipality seat but also for the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change whose member Mr Wadri is contesting as an independent in defiance of the party's preferred candidate Bruce Musema.

Nusura Tiperu, a former legislator at the EAC Parliament in Arusha, is the NRM’s flagbearer.

Polling stations are expected to open at 7:00am local time.

The constituency has 65 polling station.