Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Election Fallout: Was 2008 Rigged?

The final tallies for Monday's election make for interesting reading. The DP's Robert Okware won with 6,129 votes, over 3,000 clear of the NRM's Kisuule in second place. Natukunda in third received 1,090. Overall turnout was up by nearly 300%, from 3,500 last year, and the winning margin increased tenfold.

Student politicians I've spoken to on campus attribute this this to one thing: the determination of the opposition parties not to be the victim of what they saw as 'blatant rigging' in 2008. They suggest that ballot boxes were 'pre-stuffed' before polling opened and that the postgraduate vote was a target for ringers, due to the fact that the majority live off campus and don't tend to vote. Indeed security around the ballot boxes was significantly beefed up this year, with four police officers assigned to each polling station for the entire day.

Even after his huge victory, Okware (right) acknowledged the common perception of Makerere politics as corrupt:

"It is the students who decide whether you bribe or not. This is about brain power not money as many think. I thank the students for the support and I promise them the best"

Let's hope he can deliver.

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