‘Not worth my life’: Ugandans vote in tense election

But delays have been seen in the supply of polling supplies in some locations, together with the place Wine was to vote.

Results are anticipated inside 48 hours of polls closing at 4 p.m. More than 17 million individuals are registered voters in 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 towards a robust problem from Wine, a well-liked younger singer-turned-opposition lawmaker. Nine different challengers are attempting 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 worry might mount a road rebellion resulting in regime change. Wine insists he’s operating a nonviolent marketing campaign.

Wine, of the National Unity Platform social gathering, has mentioned he doesn’t consider the election is free and honest. He has urged supporters to linger close to polling stations to guard their votes. But the electoral fee, which the opposition sees as weak, has mentioned voters should return dwelling after casting ballots.

Internet entry was reduce Wednesday evening. “No matter what they do, the world is watching,” Wine tweeted.

“This election has already been rigged,” one other opposition candidate, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, advised native broadcaster NTV as polls opened, including that “we will not accept the outcome of this election.”

The authorities’s determination this week to close down entry to social media in retaliation over Facebook’s removing of Museveni-linked Ugandan accounts accused of inauthentic habits was meant “to limit the eyes on the election and, therefore, hide something,” mentioned 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.

Security forces have deployed closely in the world that encompasses Kampala, the place the opposition has sturdy assist partly due to rampant unemployment even amongst faculty graduates.

“Museveni is putting all the deployments in urban areas where the opposition has an advantage,” mentioned Gerald Bareebe, an assistant professor of political science at Canada’s York University. “If you ask many Ugandans now, they say the ballot paper is not worth my life.”

Some younger folks mentioned they’d vote regardless of the obvious dangers.

“This government has ruled us badly. They have really squeezed us,” mentioned Allan Sserwadda, a automotive washer. “They have ruled us for years and they say they have ideas. But they are not the only ones who have ideas.”

Asked if the heavy navy deployment fazed him, he smiled and mentioned: “If we are to die, let us die. Now there is no difference between being alive and being dead. Bullets can find you anywhere. They can find you at home. They can find you on the veranda.”

At least 54 folks have 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, along 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 foreign interests” who can’t be trusted with energy. Wine has been arrested many occasions on varied fees 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 doable life presidency.

“I grew up when he was president. Even my children have been born when he is president,” taxi driver Mark Wasswa mentioned as voting started. “We also want to see another person now.”

The rise of Wine as a nationwide chief with out ties to the regime has raised the stakes throughout the ruling National Resistance Movement social gathering.

“(Ruling) party members and supporters ought to know that this is a watershed election to shape, determine and install a Museveni successor,” authorities spokesman Ofwono Opondo not too long ago wrote in the Sunday Vision newspaper.

The African Union and East African bloc have deployed election observer missions however the European Union mentioned “an offer to deploy a small team of electoral experts was not taken up. The role of local observers will be even more important than before.”

The EU, U.N. and others have warned Uganda’s safety forces towards utilizing extreme power.

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.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This materials is probably not revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.

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