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Uganda votes amid internet shutdown

By Betty Njeru | January 14th 2021 at 09:33:03 GMT +0300

Uganda is today voting for the presidential and parliamentary seats.

Polling stations opened at 7am, attracting large queues of Ugandan citizens, and will close at 4.00pm.

Reports reaching Standard Digital reveal that security has been heightened across the capital and inside the polling stations.

Voting will only take a day.

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There are reports that biometric voter verification kits in some polling stations have malfunctioned.

People queue to cast their ballots for the presidential elections at a voting center in Kampala, Uganda. [Reuters]

National Unity Platform (NUP) Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi has already cast his vote at Magere Freedom Square polling station. He was in the company of his wife Barbie Kyagulanyi Itungo.

Calls of a free and fair election prevailed throughout Wednesday and Thursday. 

Wine told his supporters: “Remain peaceful because I have always advocated for that even through my music many years ago. After voting, keep a reasonable distance and protect your vote. Use your camera and phone because we need as much evidence as possible.”

The Uganda Electoral Commission said poll preparations are now complete. There are about 35,000 polling stations across the country.

There are at least 18 million registered voters taking part in Thursday’s polls.

On Wednesday, security officers swarmed the streets and authorities blocked access to social media following what has been one of the most violent election campaigns in years.

The presidential election is pitting the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni against pop star cum politician Bobi Wine.

Results of the presidential election will be announced 48 hours after voting has closed. 11 candidates are running for the country's top seat.

Yesterday, Bobi Wine is quoted as saying, “Internet is completely shut down in Uganda, and media is censored. However, nothing will stop the people of Uganda from ending this oppressive regime.”

The US  withdrew its poll observer team citing frustrations by the Uganda Electoral Commission.

In a statement Wednesday, US Ambassador to Uganda Natalie Brown said that more than 75 percent of US election observers were denied accreditations by Uganda’s electoral body.

“With only 15 accreditations approved, it is not possible for the United States to meaningfully observe the conduct of Uganda’s elections at polling sites across the country,” she said.

Security forces patrol in Kampala, Uganda. [AP]

In the period leading up to Thursday’s vote, campaigns were marred by deaths, arrests and protests.

Uganda has blocked access to social media and messaging apps, meaning they will be casting their ballot amid an internet blackout.

Uganda Elections Uganda Elections 2021 President Yoweri Museveni Bobi Wine
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