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Wine disputes election as Museveni takes huge lead after interim results

AFRICA
By AP and Reuters | January 16th 2021
Ugandan security officers search vehicles outside the house of the presidential candidate and singer Bobi Wine in Magere, Uganda. [Reuters]

Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine said yesterday the military had entered and “taken control” of his home and “we are in serious trouble,” while the country waited for election results amid a government-ordered internet blackout.

Wine tweeted just hours after he alleged that Thursday’s election was rigged and said “every legal option is on the table” to challenge the official results, including peaceful protests. He referred to himself as the “president-elect.”

“None of these military intruders is talking to us. We are in serious trouble. We are under siege,” tweeted Wine, who was arrested several times during campaigning but never charged while dozens of party members were detained. This month he petitioned the International Criminal Court over alleged abuses by security forces.

Wine has said he feared for his life, and campaigned at times in a flak jacket.

Uganda’s electoral commission said longtime President Yoweri Museveni leads Wine and other candidates based on results from roughly half of polling stations, receiving 62 per cent of ballots while Wine had 29 per cent. It said final results will be declared Saturday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Wine, a popular singer-turned-lawmaker half the president’s age, alleged to reporters that “whatever is being declared is a total sham.” At the time, there was a heavy police presence near his home.

The electoral commission, which said it was “not competent” to comment on the military’s actions, said Wine should prove his allegations of rigging. Wine said he would provide video evidence of pre-ticked ballots and other irregularities once internet access in Uganda is restored.

“We secured a comfortable victory,” Wine said.

“I am very confident that we defeated the dictator by far.” He was considering “peaceful and nonviolent protests” over the declared results and said “every legal option is on the table.”

News conference

Candidates can challenge election results at the Supreme Court. Electoral Commission Chairman Simon Byabakama told a news conference that under Ugandan law, the burden of proof rested with Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi.

“The onus is upon candidate Kyagulanyi to show or to prove in what context and how the results are rigged,” he said.

The government cut internet access in the East African country on the eve of the largely peaceful election day, disrupting everything from mobile money payments to medical care.

With 29.4 per cent of votes from Thursday’s ballot counted, Museveni had won 1,852,263 votes, or 63.9 per cent, while main opposition candidate Bobi Wine had 821,874 (28.4 per cent), the electoral commission said just after 11am.

The normally bustling capital Kampala was quiet on Friday, a holiday after Thursday’s poll, with most shops closed. Soldiers patrolled on foot in the rain in a suburb visited by Reuters.

The election campaign was marred by deadly crackdowns by security forces on opposition candidates and their supporters.

The US and European Union did not deploy teams of observers for this election. Both the African Union and East African Community sent teams.

Museveni, who has led the East African country with a population of nearly 46 million for 34 years, had not made any statement by noon. A reporter for NTV Uganda said Museveni would hold a presser at 8pm.

Byabakama assured Ugandans on Thursday after polls closed that results were arriving at the national tally centre, despite the internet blackout.

“We are not using local internet to transmit our results, we are using our own system,” he said, without giving details. “Do not worry, results will come.”

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