‘Not worth my life’: Ugandans vote in tense election – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-01-14 01:08:02 –

Kampala, Uganda (AP) — Ugandans were voting in the presidential election Thursday. The presidential election was contaminated with widespread violence that could spread fear …

Kampala, Uganda (AP) — Ugandans voted Thursday in a presidential election contaminated with widespread violence. Concerns can be raised as security forces try to prevent supporters of Bobbiwine, a major opposition challenger, from monitoring polling stations. Internet access has been blocked.

A long line of voters meandered far away from the capital, Kampala. “This is a miracle,” said mechanic Stephen Cadelele. “This shows me that this time the Ugandans are determined to vote for the leader they want. I’ve never seen this before.”

However, there were delays in polling place delivery in several places, including where wine votes.

Results are expected within 48 hours of voting ending at 4 pm. With 45 million people in this East African country, more than 17 million are registered voters. Candidates must win at least 50% to avoid the final vote.

Authoritarian President Yoweri Museveni, who has been exercising power since 1986, is calling for a sixth term against the strong challenge of wine, who turned from a popular young singer to an opposition singer. Nine other challengers are trying to leave Museveni’s seat.

Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has seen many colleagues imprisoned or hidden as security forces crack down on opposition supporters who fear they may cause a street riot that could lead to a change of government. Wine claims he is running a non-violent campaign.

Wine of the National Unity Platform Party said he did not believe that elections were free and fair. He urged supporters to stay near the polling place to protect their votes. However, the Election Commission, which the opposition sees as weak, said voters must return home after voting.

Internet access was cut off on Wednesday night. “No matter what they do, the world is paying attention,” Wine tweeted.

Another opposition candidate, Patrick Oboi Amriat, told local broadcaster NTV when the polls began, “I don’t accept the results of this election.” “This election has already been fraudulent. There are. “

This week, the government’s decision to suspend access to social media in retaliation for Facebook’s deletion of a Museveni-linked Ugandan account accused of fraud “restricts eyes on elections and therefore what It meant “hiding”, said Crispin Kahel. Independent election observer.

Museveni’s support at the age of 76 has traditionally been concentrated in rural areas, and many believe he has regained the sense of peace and security lost during the administration of dictators, including Idi Amin.

The opposition party has gained strong support due to the large number of security forces deployed in the area including Kampala and the unemployment that is rampant among university graduates.

“Musebeni has all its developments in urban areas where the opposition has an advantage,” said Gerald Baribe, an assistant professor of political science at York University in Canada. “Now, when I ask many Ugandans, they say ballots aren’t worth my life.”

Some young people said they would vote despite the obvious risks.

“This government dominated us. They really put pressure on us,” said car wash machine Alan Selwadda. “They have dominated us for years, and they say they have ideas, but they are not the only ones who have ideas.”

Asked if the violent military deployment surprised him, he smiled and said: “If we die, let us die. Now there is a difference between being alive and dead. No. Bullets can find you everywhere. They can find you at home. They can find you on the balcony. ”

At least 54 people were killed in Uganda in November as security forces subdued the riots caused by the arrest of Wine for violating campaign rules aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Wine has inspired the imagination of many in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa, boldly calling for Museveni’s retirement.

Museveni dismissed 38-year-old wine as an unreliable “foreign interest agent” in power. Wine has been arrested many times on various charges but has never been convicted.

Museveni, who criticized African leaders for not leaving power decades ago, now has more after lawmakers dumped the last constitutional obstacle, the age limit, into a possible presidential office. Seeking a term.

“I grew up when he was president. Even my children were born when he was president,” said taxi driver Mark Waswa when the vote began. .. “We want to meet other people now.”

The rise of wine as a national leader unrelated to the administration has heightened interests within the ruling National Resistance Movement.

“(Ruling) members and supporters should be aware that this is a watershed election to shape, determine and establish Museveni’s successor,” said government spokesman Offwono Opond. I recently wrote for the Sunday Vision newspaper.

The African Union and the East African block deployed election observers, but the European Union said, “The offer to deploy a small team of election experts was not accepted. The role of local observers is more than ever. It will be important. ”

The EU, United Nations and others have warned Ugandan security forces not to use excessive force.

Ugandan elections are often undermined by allegations of fraud and abuse by security forces. The country has never witnessed a peaceful transfer of power since its independence from Britain in 1962.

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