Uganda’s Museveni takes commanding election lead as rival alleges fraud

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Long-time leader Yoweri Museveni had a commanding lead in Uganda’s presidential election according to preliminary results on Friday though his main rival Bobi Wine said there had been widespread fraud.

With 6.8 million ballots counted, or 37% of registered voters, Museveni had won 4.05 million, or 62.2%, while main opposition candidate Wine had 1.99 million votes (30.6%), the electoral commission said just after 9 p.m. (1800 GMT).

The election campaign was marred by deadly crackdowns by security forces on opposition candidates and their supporters:

Wine and some other opposition candidates were arrested on multiple occasions.

There was a heavy security presence around Wine’s sprawling compound on Friday. The singer-turned-lawmaker said he was under siege and his life was in danger.

“We have simply boosted our deployment in the neighbourhood for his own security. We are not there to arrest him and he is not under arrest,” Luke Owoyesigyire, deputy spokesman for Kampala’s metropolitan police said.

The deputy spokesperson for Uganda’s armed forces, Deo Akiiki, said security officers intervened on Friday to arrest three intruders who had jumped over the fence into Wine’s compound.

Wine has galvanised young Ugandans with calls for political change and he told a news conference on Friday that he had video proof of voting fraud. “I am very confident that we defeated the dictator by far,” he said.

“We are putting every legal, every constitutional and every non-violent option on the table,” Wine told Reuters. “I will be happy to share the videos of all the fraud and irregularities as soon as the internet is restored.”

Electoral Commission Chairman Simon Byabakama told a news conference that under Ugandan law, the burden of proof rested with Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi.

“The onus is upon candidate Kyagulanyi to show or to prove in what context and how the results are rigged,” he said.

Wine’s claims have not been independently verified by Reuters. The United States and European Union did not deploy teams of observers for this election, though the African Union and East African Community did.

Neither the AU or EAC observer teams responded to requests for comment about possible irregularities.

Museveni, who has led the East African country with a population of nearly 46 million for 34 years.

More than a dozen East African non-governmental organisations called for the release of 26 Ugandan election observers arrested on Thursday over allegations they were creating an illegal parallel tallying centre.

They said those arrested were civil society members carrying out the legitimate duty of collecting information at a time when the authorities had shut down many forms of communications.

On Wednesday, the government ordered an internet blackout until further notice, a day after banning all social media and messaging apps.

Wine and his supporters used Facebook to relay live coverage of his campaigns and news conferences after he said many media outlets had declined to host him.

The electoral commission’s Byabakama assured Ugandans on Thursday that results were arriving at the national tallying centre, despite the internet blackout.

“We are not using local internet to transmit our results, we are using our own system,” he said, without giving details. “Don’t worry, results will come.”