It is reggae singer Vs veteran Musaveni in Ugandan presidential vote
KAMPALA (UGANDA) – In the presidential election in Uganda, which got underway on Thursday, long-time leader Yoweri Museveni is pitted against an opposition led by a popular singer in spite of a campaign marked by harsh crackdowns.
Polls were slated to begin at 7 am local time (0400 GMT). But at six polling stations in the capital, voting was delayed by 60 to 90 minutes as the ballot papers failed to arrive on time.
In the nation of nearly 46 million people, the communications regulator ordered an internet blackout and telecoms operators were told to suspend operations from Wednesday, said South Africa-based MTN Group, which is the largest operator in Uganda.
Reggae artist Bobi Wine, 38, is the choice of many angry, disillusioned young voters who say former guerrilla leader Museveni, 76, is out of touch with reality as he has failed to tackle unemployment and mounting public debt.
According to the veteran leader, Wine is an upstart with the backing of several foreign governments and gays. Musaveni said his administration promises political stability and economic progress, including hydroelectric dams and roads.
In campaign-related violence, scores were killed when security forces cracked down on gatherings of opposition supporters. Opposition candidates, supporters and campaign staff have been repeatedly arrested.
The government justified the crackdown saying gatherings are illegal during the pandemic crisis. On the other hand, the opposition said the ban on rallies in some parts of the nation is a smokescreen for repression.
“If you try to disturb peace, you will have yourself to blame. The security forces, following the law, are ready to deal with any troublemaker,” said Museveni in a TV broadcast, appearing in a military camouflage jacket.
“The numbers aren’t yet big because people were not sure what will happen at the station given the tension and message that there would be violence,” said Kamwebaze Elvin, an election worker at New Planet Primary School polling station in the capital.