MASAKA — The Chief Magistrate, Charles Yeitesi has slapped in the face, Agriculture Minister, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja after the judge detected unacceptable fraud orchestrated by the minister.
The Chief magistrate who had Monday issued a vote recount order has declined to continue with the exercise after it emerged that the seal on one of the ballot boxes delivered in court was broken.
Yeitesi had issued the vote recount order following claims by Minister Ssempijja that he was robbed of his victory and handed to his National Unity Platform-NUP rival, Francis Katabaazi Katongole.
Ssempijja polled 10,865 votes against his rival’s 12,198 votes.
He, however, alleged in his petition that the vote tallying was marred with numerical errors in favour of his opponent.
The embattled Minister also alleged many of his polling agents were not allowed to witness the vote counting exercise, arguing that some of his votes could have been interchanged and given to his opponent.
Katabaazi through his lawyers applied for an interim order for stay of the vote recount in vain.
As a result, on Tuesday morning, Ann Namatovu, the Kalungu District Returning Officer delivered 36 ballots boxes before the Chief Magistrate’s court for a vote recount.
However, as the magistrate embarked on the vote recount exercise, it was discovered that one of the ballot boxes had a broken seal, an indication that it was tampered with before delivery.
Besides the broken seal, the court also observed glaring variations between the orange and pink seals used on the ballot boxes raising more suspicion on their integrity.
The returning officer tried to explain the variations, but Yeitesi decided to stop the recount on grounds that he was not of the integrity of the results. Katabaazi told journalists outside court that he was destined for a second victory in court after defeating the Minister in a democratic process.
Ssempijja declined to comment about the court verdict, but his lead lawyer Kandeebe said they will consult on their next course of action.