After the end of the count for the presidential election in Uganda on Saturday (16), Yoweri Museveni, 76, in power for 35 years, won the sixth term, while his main opponent, Bobi Wine, 38, remains surrounded military personnel at his home and maintains charges of fraud in the electoral process.
According to the Ugandan Election Commission, Museveni obtained 58.6% of the vote against 34.8% for wine. In a speech to the nation after the victory was announced, the dictator dismissed allegations of manipulation of the results and said the election could be considered “the freest cheating” in the country’s history.
Despite Museveni’s speech, the election campaign in Uganda was marked by a series of episodes of violence against Wine, his supporters and other opposition candidates.
The former pop singer, famous in the country for embodying the desires of a younger generation who have never lived under the command of any other political leadership, is under some sort of military siege at his home near Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
“This is an election which has been taken over by the military and the police,” Wine told Reuters news agency in a telephone interview. According to the opponent, officers around his home since Thursday (14) have not let him out.
“This again shows how dictatorial Museveni’s regime is. It is a travesty of democracy,” he added. In his Twitter profile, Wine classified what he saw as a “house arrest”.
“Our food supply ran out and when my wife tried to collect food from the garden yesterday, she was blocked and attacked by the soldiers in our condominium,” he wrote.
According to spokespersons for the Kampala Metropolitan Police and the Ugandan armed forces, officers remain in place to ensure Wine’s safety, not to arrest him.
The streets of the Ugandan capital were empty and silent after the results were announced on Saturday (16), as if the curfew that has been in force in the country since March as a measure to control the spread of the coronavirus had been anticipated.
“These gunmen are everywhere and ready to kill,” Innocent Mutambi, 26, said in an interview with Reuters. “I’m sure what they announced is wrong, but now we can’t face them, they will kill us.”
In addition to the military, only Museveni’s supporters seemed willing to take to the streets. Hundreds of them drove their motorcycles into central Kampala where they started dancing with posters bearing the face of the dictator.
In his campaign, Museveni supported the argument that his long experience makes him a good leader. He also pledged to continue offering stability and progress to Ugandans and blamed the country’s elite for the problems with the national education and health systems.
Speaking from one of his rural properties and wearing his iconic hat, he said he was not in charge of Uganda to enjoy a good life, but to face historical challenges.
Representatives of several countries and international entities expressed concern about the Ugandan electoral process.
“We are deeply concerned about the countless reliable reports which speak of violence by security forces during the pre-election period and irregularities during the election,” Morgan Ortagus, spokesman for the US State Department, wrote in a statement. communicated.
British Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs James Duddridge also expressed concern over freedom in Uganda and called Museveni’s internet blockings “a clear limitation on the transparency of elections.”
On the eve of the vote, the dictator banned platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, then blocked telecommunications companies, which generated a “blackout” on the country’s Internet.
These acts, according to Museveni himself, were a response to Facebook’s ban last Monday (11) of a network of accounts linked to the Ugandan Ministry of Information. According to the social network, the profiles were fake and attempted to manipulate public debate and influence voting intentions.
Museveni even apologized for the inconvenience caused by the blockade, but said he had no choice after Mark Zuckerberg’s company suspended accounts supporting his party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM). .
“If you want to pick a team against the NRM, then this group [Facebook] he must not operate in Uganda, “said the dictator.” We cannot tolerate this arrogance of someone who comes to decide for us who is good and who is bad. “
Wine claims to have video evidence of irregularities in the election, such as footage of people being forced to vote for Museveni at gunpoint by the military. The opponent said he would share the material as soon as internet connections were restored.
Representatives of the Election Commission, however, deny any irregularities in the voting and counting process and point out that under Ugandan law, Wine bears the burden of proof – that is, he is the one who must present concrete evidence that the election was illegitimate. .
Most international observers were unable to send representatives to Uganda after being denied their credentials by local authorities, further compounding the election’s lack of transparency.
The Africa Elections Watch coalition, meanwhile, sent more than 2,000 observers to 146 districts across the country and said it had found irregularities such as late opening at most polling stations, loss of ballots. and the illegal opening of the ballot boxes.
Tibor Nagy, the US State Department’s top diplomat for Africa, said in a Twitter post that the electoral process in Uganda was “fundamentally flawed”. He cited reports of fraud and denial of accreditation to observers, as well as episodes of violence against members of the opposition and the arrest of civil society activists.