Longtime Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has won a sixth term that will take his reign into a fourth decade after a poll his rivals say was marred by flaws.
The electoral commission said on Saturday that Museveni, in power since 1986, won 58.6% of the vote.
Bobi Wine, the 76-year-old closest challenger who collected an official 34.8%, said on Sunday he would challenge the election results in court.
“I … make this painful but nonetheless inevitable leadership decision urging you to renounce all forms of violence as we prepare to challenge the election result and its glaring imperfections in court for the sake of our long-term victory.” and for Uganda, ”said Bobi Wine in a statement posted on his party’s Twitter account.
I therefore take this painful but nonetheless inevitable decision by management to urge you to renounce all forms of violence as we prepare to challenge the election result and its glaring imperfections in court for the sake of our long-term victory and for Uganda.
– National unity platform (@NUP_Ug) January 16, 2021
The 38-year-old musician-turned-politician, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was not the only opposition leader to dismiss the results alleging fraud.
“It is time to turn the page and take the next step in the fight. We will not live like serfs in our own country, ”Alliance for National Transformation candidate Mugisha Muntu said on Twitter shortly after the announcement.
“These results are completely fabricated,” he added.
However, analysts said they didn’t expect a court challenge to produce a different result – as it did in 2016, when former opposition leader Kizza Besigye filed a petition to overturn Museveni’s re-election in that year’s polls.
“Like Besigye, who took the case to court, the court will rule: ‘although there were irregularities, they were not sufficient to change the results of the election.” Horn of Africa analyst Abdullahi Boru Halakhe told Al Jazeera.
“After failing in court, the most predictable outcome is to take the case to the court of public opinion. Again, the model used by the security agencies against Besigye is instructive, ”added Halakhe, referring to the repeated arrests of Besigye.
“The security agencies will use disproportionate force against Bobi Wine and his supporters.”
The run-up to Thursday’s poll was marked by one of the bloodiest campaigns in years, with security forces violently disrupting opposition rallies citing concerns over the coronavirus and jailing a number of prominent figures from the opposition. In November, more than 50 opposition supporters were killed during two days of protests following the arrest – one of several – of Bobi Wine.
The leader of the Platform for National Unity, which is hugely successful among the country’s youth, had previously said he would lead peaceful protests if the ballot was rigged.
“Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world. A huge percentage of this population voted for Bobi Wine, ”said Halakhe. “It will be really worrying if Bobi Wine decides to fight in the street.”
Museveni, who dismissed the opposition’s claims and said the ballot was free and fair, warned authorities would not tolerate any disturbance.
“The riots will not take place and if they [opposition] tried, they will be processed. Not like the other time the police were taken by surprise, ”he said.
In an address to the nation on Saturday night after the results were announced, the president argued that “this could turn out to be the most cheating-free election in Uganda’s 58 years of independence” – but also promised to examine allegations that voting machines failed at several polling stations.
“We are going to carry out an audit because due to the suppression of the Internet, there was no immediate transmission of the voting methods from the polling stations,” he said.
The government ordered telecommunications companies to shut down the internet on the eve of the poll, and the outage remained in place.
In Kampala, shortly before the announcement of the results, security forces gathered in the streets of the capital.
Bobi Wine’s home, meanwhile, was also under tight security, with soldiers barring journalists and visitors from accessing the property. Officials say the security forces are there for Bobi Wine’s own safety.
It has now been four days since the soldiers surrounded our house and placed my wife and I under house arrest. We are running out of food and when my wife tried to collect food in the garden yesterday, she was blocked and assaulted by the soldiers on the scene in our compound. (ADMIN) pic.twitter.com/MLEtSbyCcW
– WINE BOBI (@HEBobiwine) January 17, 2021
“It has now been four days since the military surrounded our house and placed my wife and I under house arrest,” a Twitter update said Sunday under Bobi Wine’s account.
“We are running out of food and when my wife tried to collect food in the garden yesterday, she was blocked and assaulted by the soldiers staged in our complex,” he added.
The Twitter account also reported that Francis Zaake, a prominent member of parliament who was arrested while attempting to visit Bobi Wine’s home on Friday, was admitted to hospital “severely beaten and brutalized” by police forces. security.
The United States, meanwhile, said it was “deeply disturbed” by events in Uganda, noting voters were voting in an environment of “intimidation and fear”.
“We are deeply disturbed by the many credible reports of violence by security forces during the pre-election period and electoral irregularities during the polls,” said Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson for the State Department on Saturday evening. “We urge independent, credible, impartial and thorough investigations into these reports and that those responsible be held to account.
“We condemn the relentless attacks on political candidates and urge the government to respect their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression,” Ortagus added.
Meanwhile, closer to the Ugandan border in Tanzania, President John Magufuli – himself re-elected late last year in a poll that the opposition claims to have been rigged – congratulated Museveni on his victory and announced called on the Ugandans to continue to keep “peace”.
Follow Hamza Mohamed on Twitter: @Hamza_Africa