Mu­sev­eni wins poll amid fraud charges

In­ter­na­tional ob­servers de­nounce elec­tion process as un­trans­par­ent and prej­u­diced as op­po­si­tion leader placed un­der house ar­rest dur­ing vote

CityPress - - News -

Uganda’s Pres­i­dent Yow­eri Mu­sev­eni ex­tended his 30-year rule yes­ter­day, win­ning an elec­tion that in­ter­na­tional ob­servers said lacked trans­parency and one that his main op­po­nent, who was placed un­der house ar­rest, de­nounced as a sham. One of Africa’s long­est-serv­ing lead­ers, Mu­sev­eni won 60.8% of the vote, while main op­po­si­tion can­di­date Kizza Be­si­gye – a four-time pres­i­den­tial con­tender and the Fo­rum for Demo­cratic Change’s can­di­date – gar­nered just 35.4%, ac­cord­ing to the elec­toral com­mis­sion.

“We have just wit­nessed what must be the most fraud­u­lent elec­toral process in Uganda,” Be­si­gye said, call­ing for an in­de­pen­dent au­dit of the re­sults.

Mu­sev­eni’s dis­puted win gives him an­other five-year elec­tive term, set­ting the in­cum­bent on course to lead Uganda for a cu­mu­la­tive 35 years of un­in­ter­rupted rule since 1986.

Be­si­gye said he had been placed un­der house ar­rest, and a Reuters reporter saw his house en­cir­cled by po­lice in riot gear and me­dia were barred from go­ing near it. On Thurs­day af­ter­noon, Be­si­gye was de­tained briefly in Kam­pala for al­leged crim­i­nal tres­pass and as­sault.

A se­nior of­fi­cial with Be­si­gye’s party said he had been lead­ing a crowd of sup­port­ers to a build­ing where he com­plained that bal­lot stuff­ing was un­der way. Po­lice said Be­si­gye’s claims were un­founded and out­ra­geous.

The US con­demned his ar­rest, and US state depart­ment spokesper­son John Kirby said it called into ques­tion Uganda’s com­mit­ment to a trans­par­ent elec­tion that was free from in­tim­i­da­tion.

Euro­pean Union (EU) ob­servers have also crit­i­cised the poll, say­ing the gov­ern­ing party had cre­ated an “in­tim­i­dat­ing at­mos­phere”. While prais­ing the “re­mark­able de­ter­mi­na­tion” of Ugan­dans to vote, EU chief ob­server Ed­uard Kukan said the gov­ern­ing Na­tional Re­sis­tance Move­ment’s “dom­i­na­tion of the political land­scape dis­torted the fair­ness of the cam­paign”.

Vot­ing was de­layed in some ar­eas, es­pe­cially in the cap­i­tal, and spo­radic vi­o­lence was re­ported in some ar­eas, while ac­cess to so­cial-me­dia sites such as Twit­ter and Face­book was blocked for much of the day, frus­trat­ing vot­ers.

On Fri­day morn­ing, vot­ing re­sumed in a hand­ful of ar­eas where de­lays in de­liv­er­ing polling ma­te­rial had pre­vented some peo­ple from cast­ing their bal­lot.

“It’s our right to vote,” said Geofrey Were (32) as he stood wait­ing for the se­cond suc­ces­sive day in the Ggaba neigh­bour­hood of Kam­pala. “This man has ruled us for 30 years. Ob­vi­ously we need a change.”

While Mu­sev­eni has presided over eco­nomic growth, crit­ics – es­pe­cially the young – ac­cuse him of not tack­ling cor­rup­tion, of act­ing in­creas­ingly like an au­to­crat and of not cre­at­ing jobs.

Staff reporter

PHOTO: BEN CUR­TIS / AP

ANGER BOILS

OVER A Ugan­dan po­lice­man strug­gles to keep hold of

a box con­tain­ing

vot­ing ma­te­rial as ex­cited vot­ers sur­round him af­ter wait­ing for more than

seven hours with­out be­ing able to vote at a polling

sta­tion in Ggaba, on the out­skirts of

Kam­pala, Uganda, on

Thurs­day

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