The chairman of Uganda’s electoral commission, Simon Mugenyi Byabakama, has hailed the fiercely contested presidential and parliamentary as a success.
At a news conference in the capital Kampala, he said Ugandans had turned up in large numbers and voted peacefully in spite of the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ugandans formed long queues on Thursday to cast their vote in a hotly contested poll in which long-time President Yoweri Museveni faces off against pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine.
Earlier ballot boxes arrived late at polling stations and biometric voter verification machines failed. But Mr Byabakama said these were just isolated incidents.
The main opposition candidate, Bobi Wine, said some of his polling agents had been arrested.
He’s challenging the incumbent, Yoweri Museveni who’s been in power for nearly 35 years.
Museveni said he would accept the result if there were no irregularities.
People turned out in droves to make their mark in a historic poll in which the power of autocrat Museveni, who has been president for 35 years, will be truly tested for the first time.
Museveni’s government, keenly aware of a threat to its rule, shut down the internet on Wednesday evening, a few hours before the start of voting.
Eleven candidates are vying for the top seat, including two retired generals who turned against their former boss, in an election already overshadowed by violence.
But only Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, is said to have a real chance of winning against Museveni.
Museveni, 76, is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders and has changed Uganda’s constitution to enable him to run for yet another five-year term.
Wine, 38, is meanwhile believed to solidly lead the mass of young voters against the ruling generation.
“We are representing the common people, the young people and the poor people of Uganda,’’ Wine said after casting his vote in the capital, Kampala.
“It is such a great honour to represent my generation in such a monumental election, and my hope and prayer is that we can realise what we have aspired for a long period of time,’’ he added.
Museveni was set to vote in western Uganda on Thursday.
The atmosphere is tense in Uganda. The run-up to the election has seen almost daily violence, and armed police and military forces are patrolling the streets in each major city.
The army also put up checkpoints every few kilometres to control the crowds during Election Day.
More than 18 million registered voters are expected to cast their vote at roughly 35,000 polling stations across the country between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. (0400-1400 GMT).
After ballot boxes had arrived late at numerous polling stations, the electoral commission announced voting, initially scheduled to stop at 1300 GMT, will be possible for an extra hour.
Voters will also elect more than 400 members of parliament on Thursday.
Results are expected within 48 hours after the end of voting.
A candidate needs at least 50 per cent of votes to win in the first round. If any candidate fails to do so, a run-off election will be scheduled.
Uganda Election: Bobi Wine Files Arbitrary Detention Complaint
The Presidential candidate of the National Unity Platform (NUP) in the Uganda election, Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a Bobi Wine, has filed an arbitrary detention complaint to the United Nations (UN).
The Ugandan military has since Friday surrounded Bobi Wine’s house, a day after Uganda conducted presidential elections, barring him from going out or receiving visitors.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Bobi Wine, said: “Nigerian human rights lawyer Femi Falana has filed this complaint on my behalf to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Arrest.
“We are challenging my continued illegal confinement by the Ugandan police and the military.”
Long-time president Museveni, 76, was re-elected with almost 59 per cent of the vote, followed by 38-year-old Wine, with roughly 35 per cent.
Wine says he will legally contest the result of the presidential election, alleging “widespread fraud” during the Jan. 14 poll, which was seen as Uganda’s first election in which there was a real threat to Museveni’s rule.
Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, has retained power for 35 years.
He had changed Uganda’s constitution to enable himself to run for yet another five-year term.
The election had been overshadowed by violence since campaigning began, with almost daily violence being reported.
The internet was shut down across the country shortly before the start of voting.
It has since returned, although social media remains unavailable.
Ugandans Go to the Polls; This Time to Vote for Mayors
The Ugandan electorate on Wednesday returned to polling stations to elect city mayors and district chairpersons.
According to Electoral Commission (EC) road map, Wednesday’s elections of District Local Government Councils shall include elections for District/City Chairpersons, Lord Mayor, Mayors, and Councillors at local government level.
The poll is holding about a week after presidential and parliamentary polls were held. However, local media say voter turnout are low in the local government council elections compared to last week’s elections.
Analysts say the low turnout was expected as some voters were unhappy with how the general elections were conducted.
Popular musician Jose Chameleon, real name Joseph Mayanja, is contesting to be mayor of the capital, Kampala. His rivals include Nabilah Naggayi, Dan Kazibwe, Godfrey Nyakana and incumbent Erias Lukwago.
Under the Local Government Act, District chairpersons are among others, mandated to preside over meetings of the executive committees of the districts, monitor the general administration of the districts and implementation of council decisions.
Meanwhile, the results of the presidential election continued to generate tensions locally and internationally. A Nigerian senior advocate and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), on Tuesday dragged President Yoweri Museveni to the United Nations over the illegal house arrest of his main challenger, Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a Bobi Wine.
Bobi Wine, 38, has not been seen outside of his home since the Presidential election held last Thursday.
On Tuesday, US Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown, who went to Wine’s resident to check on his health and safety, because he has “effectively been unable to leave his home, with security forces surrounding his residence,” was turned back by the army, a Facebook post said.
Uganda Election: Nigerian Lawyer, Falana, Takes Museveni Complaints to the UN
Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), has filed a complaint at the United Nations against President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda over the illegal detention of Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.
Bobi Wine, a former reggae musician, had been under house arrest since Thursday night.
News Central reports that 38-year-old Bobi Wine was Museveni’s main challenger in the 14 January 2021 Presidential election.
Contesting as a presidential candidate under the umbrella of the National Union Platform (NUP), Bobi Wine had emerged second best after polling 38 per cent of the votes.
Museveni was declared winner after claiming 58 per cent of votes cast.
However, Ugandan forces had condoned off Wine’s house since last Thursday, effectively keeping him and his wife under house arrest and incommunicado.
On Tuesday, the United States Government announced that the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie Brown, had been barred from seeing Bobi Wine
In a statement same day, Falana said that Bobi Wine had been denied access to his lawyers in a bid to prevent him from filing a petition against the declaration of Museveni as the winner of the highly flawed Presidential election.
“We have submitted a complaint against the government of Uganda to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concerning the detention of the detained couple,” Falana said.
The complaint by Falana, which was attached to the statement, read in part, “Mr. Wine and his wife are being illegally detained for days without any criminal charges preferred against him. He has also been denied adequate supply of food by hundreds of Uganda military forces and policemen who have laid siege to his house for the umpteenth time since the election day.
“I am therefore seeking an opinion from the Working Group finding the house arrest and continuing detention of Mr. Wine and his wife to be arbitrary and in violation of Uganda’s Constitution of 1995 (as amended) and obligations under international human rights law including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Uganda is a state party.”
Also, a top U.S. diplomat to Africa, Tibor Nagy, called Uganda’s electoral process “fundamentally flawed,” citing “authorities’ denial of accreditation to election observers, violence and harassment of opposition figures” and the arrest of civil service organization workers.
“We continue to urge restraint and rejection of violence by all actors as Uganda’s election results are announced,” said Nagy in a series of tweets,.
“The immediate and full restoration of Internet connectivity is essential. The U.S. response hinges on what the Ugandan government does now.”
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