Museveni to punish government officials involved in electoral crimes

Five police officers have already been arrested following president Yoweri Museveni‘s directive to investigate electoral crimes committed by Government officials during local government by-elections in Bukedea district, where his party’s candidate won by a landslide of 91%. The directive is being implemented by the State House Anti-Corruption Unit.

Bukedea is a located in Eastern Uganda and is the home district of the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Annet Anita Among. The by-election was held on June 14, 2023 and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate Mary Akol was declared winner with 79,692 votes.

However, the would-be strong challenger, David Stephen Omagoro was sabotaged from being nominated after government officials aided by police invaded his home, beat him up, confiscated his academic papers and stole his campaign money amounting to UGX 163 million ($44,660). In the end he was never nominated.

The by-election and was marred by blatant lawlessness including violence perpetrated by the government officials, aided and abated by the police. It had all manner of electoral flaws including ballot staffing to the effect that it recorded a voter turnout of 87%. That voter turnout percentage in a local government by-election is unprecedented and is in itself a red-flag for a stolen election.

In the letter signed by Museveni, dated 26th June 2023 and addressed to Brig. Gen. Henry Isoke who heads the State House Anti-Corruption Unit, the Ugandan president is saying without mentioning it that “whilst the candidate on my party was declared winner, this time around you went so blatantly overboard in election manipulation.”

The secret known is that electoral violence and money have been used by Museveni during elections and by-elections since 1996. In 2001, his former bush war hero, Kakooza Mutale and his Kalangala Action Plan vigilante group, unleashed violence and mayhem on supporters of Dr. Kizza Besigye who was challenging Museveni for the presidency. In subsequent elections 2006, 2011, 2016, 2021, violence has been a constant strategy for winning elections in Uganda.

In the most recent past, the same level of violence and electoral crimes were committed in the Kayunga District by-election (December 2012) which NRM won, Soroti East by-elections (July 2022) which NRM won, and Serere by-elections (February 2023), but the president turned a blind eye.

It remains unclear why President Museveni is only coming out now to call his government officials to order. And will he maintain the same tone during the by-election in Oyam district and the coming general elections in 2026?

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