Serere County By-Election – My Ordeal

Edited by Admin
Serere County By-Election – My Ordeal

For starters, I am grossly hesitant to call the Serere by-election an election. This process was largely a selection of sorts, which is contrary to what the Parliamentary Elections Act that guides the Electoral Commission on how it should conduct elections. Here is my account of how things played out.

During the campaign activities, the NRM candidate was all over campaigning in a Convoy of government motorcycles with government number plates hovering around and boasting of state power.


A day to the final campaign rally, over 1,000 military men and women were poured into Serere with all sorts of military paraphernalia, including bomb squad vans, military helicopters, mambas, fire brigade machines, and many others. More than 20 RDCs from all over the region and beyond, with at least 2 RDCs manning a Subcounty, were deployed not for security purposes, but rather to intimidate and bribe voters.


That Monday night (20th February 2023), a group of army men moved around Serere Town Council where some of our campaign team leaders (Hon. Mukaku Lubega and Hon. Kasiano Wadri) would retire to sleep after campaign activities. The army men were looking to arrest our leaders. Fortunately, our leaders had left Serere for Soroti to attend the MPs Debate at Soroti Hotel. The two survived the arrest that night.


On the final day of rallies, security personnel could be seen everywhere in Kyere Town Council and Kyere Subcounty where we had organized our final rallies. The security personnel threatened and intimidated people. The people were told that if the security personnel saw them at our rallies they would see what will happen to them. They then provided trucks and lorries to ferry people to attend the final rally of the NRM candidate promising them food, soap, and money. Fortunately, the people of Kyere boldly turned up for our rallies in resoundingly large numbers and expressed immense support for Hon. Alaso Alice. There was a clear sense of love and plenty of humour to go around on the day. After the final rally, we retrieved back to our residential hotel.

While at our hotel, we received intel that we were being trailed by the military with a plot of having us arrested. Our leaders immediately dispatched us from the hotel to other places for safety and only a few from our group remained at the hotel. At around midnight, a truck with over 15 soldiers came to the hotel and started calling to the manager to open the hotel doors. Fortunately, the hotel manager courageously defied their call, despite their shouting for over 2 hours. At around 3:00AM they departed. In that way, we survived the attack that day too.


On our resting day we organized trainings for our polling agents throughout the county which were a success. But hell continued to break loose that night. We had built a village structure of 36 people with whom we had tasked to mobilize people to vote for our candidate Hon. Alaso. The regime operatives hovered all night throughout the county and in all villages intimidating and threatening people not to turn up and vote, and that if they did turn up, then they would suffer the bitter arm of the state. They supplemented this by giving half bars of soap to stop people in our structure from turning up to vote and threatened that they would be arrested. These threats yielded their result with a horribly low voter turn up for the "selections" operation.


The polling day started with the Electoral Commission providing ballot papers that were much less than the number of voters at numerous polling stations in the county. Upon consultation, the Electoral Commission said they had made booklets of 50 ballot papers each and polling stations that were not lying in the sequence of 50, 100, 150, 250, 350 and the sequence etc were affected. At Opuure Primary School polling station the people refused to vote since 18 ballot papers were missing. Registered voters were 668, the ballots present were 650. At Kangondo Primary School the number of registered voters were 541 but they received 500 ballot papers hence missing 41 ballot papers. At Acilo Township Primary School 522 voters were registered but they received 500 ballot papers, and this happened at many other polling stations. Eventually, the Electoral Commission advised that polling should continue as there would be no more ballot papers brought to the polling stations.


At around 10:00AM, our leaders, Hon. Kasule Ismail, Hon. Mukaku Lubega, and Mr. Mado Isaac were brutally arrested from the polling stationing they were supervising and detained at Kateta Police Station. At around 10:30AM our other leader Mr. Humble Mucureezi was arrested from the polling station he was supervising. They were all released after hours of what they called "interrogations".

An hour later at around 11:00AM, our National Youth Coordinator, Counsel Nelson Agaba survived being arrested by the RDC Pallisa District for allegedly taking a picture of the 2 double cabins he was using at Oburin polling station, which were filled with over 10 armed men in military uniforms with guns. These cars and its occupants were roaming around polling stations and yet this act contravenes the Parliamentary Elections Act that doesn't allow a gun at a polling station. People are supposed to vote in a free environment, free of threat or intimidation.

A few minutes later the Chairperson of our campaigns, Mr. Moses Odilit and our Tooro Sub-regional Coordinator Mr. Mutunzi Robert survived being shot by an RDC who they intercepted giving out half bars of soap along the roadside, on election day.


At around 1:00PM, we received information from our team that the RDC had invaded their polling station, Kangodo Polling Station with armed men in army uniform driving a Toyota Hiace, Number UAS 560W. They put everybody on the polling station under arrest, including presiding officers and all agents of all candidates. They proceed to tick over 5 ballot books and forced the presiding officers to staff them in the ballot box. They then proceeded to Orupe Primary School polling station and did the same. They then went to Akoboi polling station and did the same, moved to Obulai Primary School (A-D) and (E-Z) and did the same, they moved to Oburin Primary School Polling Station and did the same, they did the same at Aminit-Opeduru polling station, they did the same at Kamurojo Primary School A polling station, the same at Kamurojo Ochorai polling station, Kamurojo Primary School B polling station, Kamurojo PRM Church polling station and many other polling stations. They then moved to Odokai Catholic church and did the same. As soon as they were leaving, I and Hon. Angelline Osegge arrived and found people in a defiant mode, they wanted to break the ballot box and the police who had no names on their uniforms were stopping them from doing so. We asked them why they had not stopped the other group that ticked and stuffed ballots and when the people became more rowdy, he grabbed my hand and scratched it on the ground as if he wanted me to go on to the ground, and sharp stones cut the left side of my left ring finger causing me to get a puncture laceration wound. I rushed to a nearby clinic and got a first aid dressing.


We immediately proceeded to the Olumoi PAG Church polling station where we found the same had been done at that polling station. Similarly, the people rounded the ballot box and broke it, spreading all the ballot papers. As we prepared to head to another location, the car we were using got a mechanical breakdown. Hon. Angelline Osegge, campaign Chairperson for Atiira Subcounty, and I jumped onto boda bodas and moved to inform our polling agents to be ready and alert of this beastly operation that was being commanded by RDC Owanyi George Akuwan who is a son of Serere District from Kasilo County. It is sad that Serere should be betrayed by their very own. As we moved from Apokor Primary School polling station, we received a call that we were being hunted by these operatives and that we should look for a safe place. We left our car behind as it had not yet functioned and moved on boda bodas. The operatives reached the car and wanted to tow it to the nearby police station which they failed to do and instead removed the number plates and took them. After their departure the people pushed the car to one of the homes of our supporters in the community and guarded it saying no one should take the car that belonged to the team of their Candidate Hon. Alaso. In the meantime, we ran to Soroti trailed by the operatives and eventually proceeded to Kampala.

Despite these unfortunate events, I left Serere very happy because we won this election and NRM factions instead defied the people’s will, distributed the results to their own candidates, and declared one of them a winner. It is unfortunate that Gen. Museveni a leader that went to the bush to fight because of electoral injustices, failure of the regime by then President, to implement the canons of democracy and abuse of human rights is the same one presiding over a government that is committing such unlawful activities in triple times than the regime he fought. It seems he and his ilk won the war in Luweero but didn't win the cause after all.


We shall overcome!

By Ahurra Ivan

District Coordinator Alliance for National Transformation, Bunyangabu District

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