Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Museveni wins landslide in controversial Uganda election

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President Yoweri Museveni won a landslide victory by extending his reign for 35 years in a controversial Uganda election, fueling concerns of an erosion of democracy after a campaign marred by violence and an internet shutdown.

The electoral commission said on Saturday that the official results showed Mr Museveni had obtained 58.6%, while Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, received 34.8%.

Mr Wine said he would challenge the results. “Everything that is declared is a pure sham,” he said. Election officials said the singer-turned-politician would have to prove his allegations of electoral fraud, which he said he would do once internet access was restored.

On Monday, Facebook closed some Ugandan government accounts for seeking to manipulate public debate ahead of the elections, angering Mr. Museveni and his followers who on Wednesday ordered an internet and social media outage.

Mr Museveni, a rebel veteran in power since 1986, said the shutdown of social media was “unfortunate but inevitable, there is no way anyone can come and play with our country to decide who is good, who is wrong”.

The chairman of the electoral commission, Simon Byabakama, said the relay and tally of results would not be affected by the Internet shutdown, adding that they would use other systems to transmit the results. Mr. Wine told reporters in Kampala on Friday: “The regime, in an unprecedented way, has decided to shut down the Internet completely. If they had nothing to hide, why keep the citizens and the world in the dark? ”

Charity Ahimbisibwe, national coordinator of the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda, a group of observers, said she was arrested while meeting with a journalist in Kampala and explained that there had been irregularities during the election.

“The problems with the process became the shutdown of the Internet, because people couldn’t get a free flow of information about what was going on in different places. The blackout created suspicion, then it was the question of the lack of freedom of observers and the withdrawal of international observers, ”she explained, referring to the EU and the United States, which decided not to send observers.

The preparation for the poll was marred by violence, with critics saying Museveni was reluctant to relinquish power. Mr Museveni said 54 people died in “senseless riots”, while Mr Wine retorted that more than 100 people were shot dead by security forces in November. Himself was beaten, arrested and shot several times, he added. On Friday, he said his home “was under siege” by security forces.

Police told local media they had surrounded Mr Wine’s home to give him security because he was a presidential candidate and dismissed the siege charges. “He is not under arrest, we are just providing security in the area,” police spokesman Luke Owoyesigire said.

Mr Wine also alleged that there had been vote rigging, adding that “all legal options are on the table” to challenge the official results, including the peaceful protests. “I am convinced that we defeated the dictator by far. I call on all Ugandans to reject blackmail. We certainly won the election and we won it by far, ”he told reporters on Friday. Capital Economics said in a note that “the risk of further violence persists,” which it believes could weigh on the economy, making it difficult for the government to service its external debt, which accounts for around 34% of domestic product. gross. .

In a show of force, security forces paraded armored vehicles through the streets of Kampala earlier this week. On Saturday, eyewitnesses said there had been a widespread security deployment in the capital.

“It was an election that took place in extreme fear,” said Maria Nassali, professor of human rights law at Makerere University. She added that “it is highly unlikely” that violence will follow the results “because all the right people are aware that the government has the capacity and the will” to crack down on supporters of the losing candidates.


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