Uganda’s Opposition, International Observers Continue to Question Election Results 

The fallout from this month’s hotly contested Uganda election is shaking the nation and drawing international rebuke.The national electoral commission declared President Yoweri Museveni the winner of a sixth term with 58% of the vote. But Robert Kyagulanyi, a politician, singer and the main opposition candidate — commonly known by his stage name, Bobi Wine — said the vote was corrupted by harassment of his supporters and ballot box stuffing. Several opposition candidates agree with Wine and are calling for national defiance of Museveni’s government.Wine was put under de facto house arrest for 12 days after the election but still marshaled international support. Human rights groups and foreign governments — including the United States — slammed the government for shutting down the internet during the election and banning outside voting observers.‘There will be consequences’U.S. Senator FILE – Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda, speaks during the World Economic Forum’s Africa meeting at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, Sept. 4, 2019.Youth at odds with Museveni?The contested election stirred the passion of Uganda’s disenchanted young population. Uganda is one of the youngest countries in the world, with a median age of less than 16, according to the CIA World Factbook. But FILE – Supporters of the National Resistance Movement celebrate the victory of Yoweri Museveni in the presidential election in Kampala, Uganda, Jan. 16, 2021. Museveni won a sixth term in office.President still has supportersA 76-year-old former rebel leader, Museveni lauded the 57% of Uganda’s 18 million registered voters who participated in the election, and he declared the poll free and fair.“I, therefore, thank the people of Uganda and I congratulate you for turning up in big numbers and voting for the candidates and for the parties of your choice,” he said when the results were certified. “I think this may turn out to be the most cheating-free election since 1962.”Museveni’s supporters say the country’s economy has improved under his leadership and the president has prioritized infrastructural progress. The country’s GDP grew by an average of 6.7% prior to the global pandemic over a three-year span. And Museveni has also been commended for how he has led efforts to battle the virus. He has also been praised for the country’s open-door policy toward refugees.“My expectation from President Museveni, first of all, is security,” a supporter of his told a Reuters reporter. “He has done good. Second, he’s going to finish up the roads he has been constructing, the hospitals, education. He’s going to do more, more, more, what I am expecting [of] him.”Some local analysts speculated that Museveni is paving the way for his son, a commander of the country’s special forces, to succeed him.But Wine and his supporters have vowed to challenge Museveni’s victory in court.‘Reject this mockery’“This and many other irregularities and fraudulent actions, for which we have overwhelming evidence, prove one thing: This has been the most fraudulent election in the history of Uganda,” he said. “We call upon the people of Uganda to reject this mockery and to refuse to acknowledge Museveni as the winner of the … polls. We defeated Museveni. We defeated them, and we were supposed to be announced as winners.”Willy Mayambala, an independent presidential candidate, told local reporters that none of the opposition candidates had representatives in the tallying centers.“We have been engaging the Electoral Commission before the campaigns and during the campaigns when the police [were] brutalizing us,” he said. “But up to today, we have never received any response.”Halima Athumani contributed to this report.      

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