Uganda police fire tear gas at voters angered by delays

People queue to cast their votes in presidential and parliamentary elections at a polling station in Kampala, Uganda, on Feb 18, 2016.
People queue to cast their votes in presidential and parliamentary elections at a polling station in Kampala, Uganda, on Feb 18, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

KAMPALA (AFP) - Ugandan police fired tear gas to disperse furious voters Thursday (Feb 18) in the capital, Kampala, as the election commission apologised for hours-long delays in delivering ballot papers.

Voting was due to begin at 7am (12pm Singapore) but was stalled for several hours in some polling stations in the city and surrounding Wakiso district when ballot boxes and papers did not arrive on time. The capital traditionally shows strong support for the opposition.

"There has been a delay in delivery of polling materials in some parts of Wakiso district and Kampala capital city. The Electoral Commission regrets the delay," the commission said in a statement. "The polling materials have now been delivered to all these places and polling has commenced in most of the places."

President Yoweri Museveni is widely predicted to win a fifth term at the presidential and parliamentary elections. Some frustrated voters accused the authorities of deliberately stalling the vote.

"People are quite angry and everybody is believing that there is something wrong behind this because of the way they are delaying things," said Moses Omony, a motorbike taxi driver.

"We know this has been done intentionally," said Marius Nkata, a builder.

The election commission meanwhile appealed for patience, saying it "calls on candidates, their agents and supporters, to be calm and tolerant as always during the polling process".