BREAKING NEWS: Internet Shutdown, voting starts

Social distancing would be a new factor in Uganda’s elections in COVID-19 times

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A nationwide shutdown of the internet did not stop Ugandans from turning up early and in numbers to vote. The internet was switched off at 8pm on Wednesday night. TV stations remain on, and most of them broadcast Ugandans lining to vote.

NTV Uganda broadcast images of long lines of voters, all with masks on but other SOPs like social distancing between people not being observed.

Most voters complained of delayed arrival of voting staff and materials. Many were at polling stations by 6am, but in many places voting had not started by 9am, while several areas reported faulty Biometric machines.

With 30 minutes to the official closing time of polls – 4pm Uganda time (13.00GMT), NTV showed images of thousands of voters still in line at many polling stations.

Only  those who will be in line to vote at 4pm will be allowed to go ahead to vote.  There are 18.1million voters in 34 684 polling stations.

President Yoweri Museveni voted at Kaaro Polling Station in Kiruhira at 3.30pm.

“I will accept the results of the election so long as there are no mistakes made in the process,” Museveni said after voting.

Ugandans are casting two votes; one for president, the other for Members of Parliament.

Counting of votes will start by 5pm where voting is concluded. Final results are expected Saturday morning.

The Electoral Commission briefed the media at the end of the day, and stated they were satisfied the polls day had concluded without any major incidents.

“It was a challenging electoral process because of COVID-19. We had technological issues, but we gave support and eased. Most importantly, we managed to conclude voting today,” said Electoral Commission spokesman Paul Bukenya.

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