Uganda: Dictator Claims Election Lead as ‘Bad Characters’ Steal Ballot Boxes

Newly re-elected president Yoweri Museveni, in power since three decades, gestures as he speaks during a press conference at his country house in Rwakitura, about 275 kilometres west of the capital Kampala on February 21, 2016.
ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty

Preliminary results in Uganda’s January 14 presidential election showed 35-year dictator Yoweri Museveni with 61.31 percent of votes counted as of Friday morning, according to the Ugandan state electoral commission.

Museveni received 50,097 votes as of Friday morning, “while opposition frontrunner and NUP [National Unity Platform] presidential candidate, Mr .Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine was trailing with 22,802 votes (27.9 percent), according to Electoral Commission’s (EC) provisional results,” East African reported.

The lead reported by Museveni’s government is a highly contested one by many in the opposition given widespread reports of irregularities and his opponent, the former pop star Wine, accusing Museveni of sending police to raid his house.

Rushenyi County officials in the Ugandan district of Ntungamo say a paper ballot box was stolen around 3:00 am Friday while in transit from a polling station to a vote counting facility.

“Some bad characters decided to steal the ballot box. For that polling station people did not vote and arrests have been made,” the Ntungamo District registrar, Latif Ngozi, told Uganda’s Daily Monitor.

“We are in touch with Electoral Commission (EC) headquarters. We are going to have an election tomorrow (today) morning [January 15],” he added.

“The stolen box contained voting materials for Kacerere Polling Station in Nyarwanya Parish in Rushenyi constituency,” according to the Daily Monitor.

While reports of irregularities came in, Wine denounced an attack on his home on Friday.

“We are under siege. The military has jumped over the fence and has now taken control of our home,” Wine wrote on Twitter.

The Ugandan military increased its presence in the national capital, Kampala, this week in anticipation of the country’s general election on January 14. Wine had hoped to oust Museveni from the office of the presidency, which he has occupied for the past 35 years.

Wine, 38, is a singer-turned-legislator in Uganda who has led a youthful opposition movement to depose Museveni, 76, for the past few years. Ugandan security forces have harassed and arrested Wine several times in his bid for the presidency, most recently as he campaigned for the January 14 election.

Wine said on January 11 that Ugandan army soldiers “raided” his home and arrested his guards while he conducted a live radio interview in support of his presidential campaign.

Uganda’s government on January 11 said it would shut down most social media platforms used in Uganda ahead of the general election, citing Facebook’s removal of groups on the site supporting Museveni’s reelection campaign.

The security crackdown in the capital left locals feeling less like they were heading into a general election and more like their country was “at war,” a Ugandan human rights lawyer named Nicholas Opiyo told Deutsche Welle on January 13.

“It doesn’t feel as though the country is going into an election,” Opiyo told the German state broadcaster.

“It feels as though the country is at war,” he said, describing “scores of armored vehicles with mounted guns … patrolling the capital.”

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