SU Senate votes in favour of Gen Sec and International Officer elections being re-run

The current Gen Sec will make a request to the NUS Returning Officer

Students' Union Senate has voted to ask the NUS to re-run elections for General Secretary and Postgraduate Officer.

By a vote of 80 per cent, the current General Secretary has been instructed to make the request to the NUS Returning Officer.

Kwame Kwarteng was elected as the University of Manchester Students' Union General Secretary for 2019/20 in elections earlier this month. Rana Phool was elected to be Postgraduate Officer.

The duo were two of four candidates banned from campaigning following complaints. They had campaigned as a team, sharing posters and flyers.

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Guilherme Lopes prepared a speech calling for the election results to be overturned

Multiple students approached us with allegations Kwame and his team had broken election rules by encouraging students to vote on their phones while the candidate or their campaigners watched.

A motion of no confidence submitted to Senate was ruled out of order on the basis there is no framework to no confidence an Officer Elect who has not yet come into office.

Current General Secretary Fatima Amed spoke of three alternative options students may wish to pursue in addition to the request instructed by Senate. These were: Submit a no confidence motion in September when Kwame and Rana take office, submit a no confidence motion in the Returning Officer, and write to the University.

Fatima said the Returning Officer could reject the request to re-run elections.

Kwame Kwarteng, General Secretary Elect has spoken to The Manchester Tab about the allegations against his team during the election campaign.

He condemned the complainants, the Union's supposedly "flawed disciplinary system", and the decision to disqualify teammate Dishika Bhalotia from the election for International Students' Officer.

Kwame told The Manchester Tab: "Our competitors did their very best to send in fabricated lies" and "resorted to cheap means to get hardworking candidates disqualified".

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He said the accusations against Dishika were "baseless" and "lies", and were "perpetrated by some competitors who couldn't stand her strong presence on campus and the fact that people from diverse race and background resonated with our campaign and voted for us."

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Kwame complained of the Students' Union's "flawed disciplinary system" and claimed the Returning Officer banned the team from campaigning "without our side of the story being listened to" and went on to speak of Dishika's disqualification: "She was disqualified by the Returning Officer without even listening to her side of the story".

Kwame explained that both him and his teammates were not allowed to defend themselves, and said this opportunity was only given on appeal after the suspension or disqualification had taken place.

One candidate who submitted a formal complaint against Kwame told The Manchester Tab: "I watched Kwame get voters to scan something on his flyer. While putting flyers in letterboxes I overhead Kwame say the following phrases to voters: 'Click vote', 'Click confirm' (on their phones) after a short chat.

"He was getting voters to vote for him while he was standing next to them thereby not giving them a free vote. This is against election conduct rules and was clearly explained to us in the briefings.

"I also watched and heard him read out the names of the slate he is running with and get voters to vote for them too while he was stood there thereby implicating his fellow candidates."

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The video from George Kenyon Hall, seen by The Manchester Tab, allegedly shows Kwame breaking electoral rules

Kwame spoke of alleged "injustices" done to his team by other candidates: "They spread a video of me and my friend at George [Kenyon] as me forcing her to vote. The girl has already come to the SU to leave a message with them on her dissatisfaction of that cheap act of the candidate who did that."

Another student told us: "I'm aware that the SU received complaints from various students about the behaviour with the phones; it wasn't just one occasion."

A third student supported the allegations of cheating, saying: "There have been numerous complaints of cheating by the elected Gen Sec, including that which was supported by video evidence."

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Two students told The Manchester Tab that candidates experienced both mental and physical intimidation from Kwame's campaign team after they had been suspended.

We asked Kwame about the alleged intimidating behaviour and last night's Senate vote but he declined to comment further.

Rana Phool, Kwame's teammate, told The Manchester Tab there is "no proof" and "no guilty consciences" and that he has not been part of "any malpractice". We've approached Rana for comment on last night's Senate vote.

The University of Manchester Students' Union told us: "Our elections processes and procedures are clear and have been long agreed by students. They include many best practice elements to ensure fair and free elections, including the appointment of an independent Returning Officer and an independent appeals panel who are not connected with our organisation or the elections.

"The procedures we have in place follow the principal of natural justice and all parties involved had been allowed to make their cases to the independent decision makers.

"These processes were used a number of times during Elections this year and resulted in the decision and outcomes (based on evidence received) that have been released to the membership."