Uganda: Court Orders Minister Opendi Out of Parliament

The High court in Mbale has ordered that the Electoral Commission conducts fresh elections for Tororo Woman parliamentary seat after nullifying the election of minister Sarah Achieng Opendi.

Court today ruled that minister of state for Health, Sarah Opendi be kicked out of the August House saying her election was not held in compliance with the electoral laws.

Opendi was in February declared winner of Tororo Woman MP seat after allegedly garnering over 62,000 votes. Her election was however challenged by her main challenger, Jacinta Ayo who had garnered close to 60,000 votes.

Ayo in a petition said that the Electoral Commission altered the results of the election in some polling stations to the advantage of Opendi. Ayo presented 52 affidavits to support her allegations. Among the affidavits are the declaration of results forms and tallying sheets.

In the affidavits, at Kwapa polling station, the declaration forms indicate that Ayo polled 244 votes while on the tallying sheet, the Electoral Commission indicated zero votes. At Mission Hope polling station, Ayo polled 204 votes but in the tallying sheet, the EC again indicated that she got zero votes. Similarly, at Ramogi polling station, Ayo polled 313 votes but she was given zero votes on the tallying sheets.

At Guest House polling station, Ayo polled 251 votes but she was given zero, at Sironjo polling station she got 171 votes but the EC gave her 17 votes, at Magola Society headquarters polling station Ayo got 405 votes but she was given 45 votes, at Tira polling station, Ayo polled 232 votes ad she was given 118 votes.

She further alleged that Opendi or through her agents and or with her consent directly participated in voter bribery. Ayo also alleged that the results of all the polling stations from Osukuru sub-county were delivered to the tallying centre after 24 hours contrary to Article 61 (c) of the Constitution of Uganda and Article 51 (1) (a) of the Parliamentary Elections Act.

Delivering the ruling today, Justice Margret Oguli Oumo ruled that Electoral Commission did not comply with the electoral laws when it declared Opendi winner of the February 18 elections. She said the election did not meet the principle of free and fair elections.

Justice Oguli also ruled that court found that election results were altered in favour of Opendi. According to the court's findings, Ayo should have emerged winner of the disputed polls had the Electoral commission used the original declaration forms.

She ruled that court found out that Ayo was denied a total of 1, 765 votes through the alteration of results. She argued that if the results were correctly tallied, Ayo would have scored 61, 276 votes against Opendi's 60, 772 votes.

Justice Oguli said Ayo adduced substantial evidence and proved beyond the satisfaction of court that the election results were altered to favour Opendi, something she says proved that the election was not held in compliance of the electoral laws.

Oguli however ruled that the petitioner failed to provide substantial evidence to back her allegation of voter bribery against the 1st respondent. Justice Oguli ordered Opendi to foot the cost of the petition.

Source: The Observer.


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