PRESIDENT Yoweri Musevini has been formally declared the winner of Uganda’s presidential elections with 58.6% of the vote leaving him all set to be sworn in for a record sixth term in office.
On Thursday, Ugandans went to the polls for what was the first real contest of President Musevini’s 35 year rule as pop star-turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, mounted a genuine challenge. Mr Kyagulanyi, 35 is half 76 year old President Musevini’s age and his campaign really appealed to the youth.
With 70% of Uganda’s population being under 30, Bobi Wine was considered a real threat as his message calling for a change of the old guard struck a chord. Fearful of this challenge, the government stepped up the persecution of Wine, arresting him several times, breaking up his rallies and even shooting his supporters.
Many international observers decided to boycott the polls, saying they were not free and fair and Wine had declared that it was rigged from the word go. Unperturbed by all this, President Musevini’s security proceeded with arresting members of the opposition and police dispersed their rallies using tear gas.
This morning, Uganda’s electoral commission disclosed that President Musevini won 58.64% of the nearly 10m ballots cast, while Bobi Wine received 34.83% of the vote. Wine has accused the electoral commission of vote rigging, an allegation the agency has dismissed.
Ugandans voted on Thursday amid a government-ordered internet shutdown which raised questions about the voting process. President Musevini had confirmed that his government directed internet providers to block Facebook and other social media, accusing the platforms of arrogance.