Lengthy strains of voters snaked into the gap within the capital, Kampala. “This can be a miracle,” mechanic Steven Kaderere stated. “This exhibits me that Ugandans this time are decided to vote for the chief they need. I’ve by no means seen this earlier than.”
However delays had been seen within the supply of polling supplies in some locations, together with the place Wine voted. After he arrived to the cheers of a crowd and solid his poll, he made the signal of the cross, then raised his fist and smiled. He stated he was “assured” of victory.
Issues had been reported with some biometric machines to confirm voters. “Our equipment failed to begin as a result of mismatching passwords,” stated Derrick Lutakoma, the presiding officer at one polling station.
Outcomes are anticipated inside 48 hours of polls closing at four p.m. Greater than 17 million persons are registered voters on this East African nation of 45 million folks. A candidate should win greater than 50% to keep away from a runoff vote.
Longtime President Yoweri Museveni, an authoritarian who has wielded energy since 1986, seeks a sixth time period in opposition to a robust problem from Wine, a well-liked younger singer-turned-opposition lawmaker. 9 different challengers try to unseat Museveni.
Wine, whose actual title is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has seen many associates jailed or go into hiding as safety forces crack down on opposition supporters they concern might mount a avenue rebellion resulting in regime change. Wine insists he’s operating a nonviolent marketing campaign.
Wine, of the Nationwide Unity Platform occasion, has stated he doesn’t imagine the election is free and honest. He has urged supporters to linger close to polling stations to guard their votes. However the electoral fee, which the opposition sees as weak, has stated voters should return residence after casting ballots.
Web entry was lower Wednesday night time. “It doesn’t matter what they do, the world is watching,” Wine tweeted.
“This election has already been rigged,” one other opposition candidate, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, informed native broadcaster NTV as polls opened, including that “we won’t settle for the result of this election.”
The federal government’s determination this week to shut down entry to social media in retaliation over Fb’s removing of Museveni-linked Ugandan accounts accused of inauthentic conduct was meant “to restrict the eyes on the election and, due to this fact, disguise one thing,” stated Crispin Kaheru, an impartial election observer.
The 76-year-old Museveni’s assist has historically been concentrated in rural areas the place many credit score him with restoring a way of peace and safety that was misplaced throughout the regimes of dictators together with Idi Amin.
Safety forces have deployed closely within the space that encompasses Kampala, the place the opposition has sturdy assist partly due to rampant unemployment even amongst faculty graduates.
“Museveni is placing all of the deployments in city areas the place the opposition has a bonus,” stated Gerald Bareebe, an assistant professor of political science at Canada’s York College. “Should you ask many Ugandans now, they are saying the poll paper isn’t price my life.”
Some younger folks stated they’d vote regardless of the obvious dangers.
“This authorities has dominated us badly. They’ve actually squeezed us,” stated Allan Sserwadda, a automotive washer. “They’ve dominated us for years they usually say they’ve concepts. However they don’t seem to be the one ones who’ve concepts.”
Requested if the heavy navy deployment fazed him, he smiled and stated: “If we’re to die, allow us to die. Now there is no such thing as a distinction between being alive and being useless. Bullets can discover you anyplace. They’ll discover you at residence. They’ll discover you on the veranda.”
No less than 54 folks had been killed in Uganda in November as safety forces put down riots provoked by the arrest of Wine for allegedly violating marketing campaign rules geared toward stopping the unfold of the coronavirus.
Wine has captured the creativeness of many in Uganda, and elsewhere in Africa, together with his daring requires the retirement of Museveni, whom he sees as part of a corrupt previous guard.
Museveni has dismissed the 38-year-old Wine as “an agent of international pursuits” who can’t be trusted with energy. Wine has been arrested many instances on varied expenses however has by no means been convicted.
Museveni, who a long time in the past criticized African leaders over not leaving energy, now seeks extra time in workplace after lawmakers jettisoned the final constitutional impediment — age limits — on a potential life presidency.
“I grew up when he was president. Even my kids have been born when he’s president,” taxi driver Mark Wasswa stated as voting started. “We additionally need to see one other particular person now.”
The rise of Wine as a nationwide chief with out ties to the regime has raised the stakes inside the ruling Nationwide Resistance Motion occasion.
“(Ruling) occasion members and supporters should know that this can be a watershed election to form, decide and set up a Museveni successor,” authorities spokesman Ofwono Opondo not too long ago wrote within the Sunday Imaginative and prescient newspaper.
The African Union and East African bloc have deployed election observer missions however the European Union stated “a suggestion to deploy a small staff of electoral specialists was not taken up. The position of native observers might be much more necessary than earlier than.”
The EU, U.N. and others have warned Uganda’s safety forces in opposition to utilizing extreme drive.
Ugandan elections are sometimes marred by allegations of fraud and alleged abuses by the safety forces. The nation has by no means witnessed a peaceable handover of energy since independence from Britain in 1962.