Uganda’s election commission on Saturday declared incumbent Yoweri Museveni the winner of the presidential election, extending his 35-year rule as his main rival alleged fraud and urged citizens to reject the result.
Museveni won 5.85 million votes, or 58.64%, of the total, while main opposition candidate Bobi Wine won 3.48 million votes (34.83%), the electoral commission said in a televised news conference.
The campaign was marked by a deadly crackdown by security forces on Wine, other opposition candidates and their supporters. In the run-up to the vote local civil society groups and foreign governments questioned its credibility and transparency, after scores of requests for accreditation to monitor the election were denied.
The United States and an African election monitoring group complained of election irregularities and Wine, a 38-year-old singer-turned-lawmaker who had rallied young Ugandans behind his call for political change, called the results a “complete fraud”.
“It’s an election that was taken over by the military and the police,” he said in a phone interview from inside his home in the capital, Kampala, which was surrounded by soldiers who he said had forbidden him from leaving.
“It further exposes how dictatorial the Museveni regime is,” added Wine, who campaigned to end what he called widespread corruption. “It’s a mockery of democracy.”
Army deputy spokesman Deo Akiiki told Reuters that security officers at Wine’s house were assessing threats he could face: “So they might be preventing him in the interest of his own safety.”
Museveni argued in the campaign that his long experience makes him a good leader and promised to keep delivering stability and progress. By 7 p.m. (1600 GMT), four hours after results were announced, the president had not issued a statement.
The government ordered the internet shut off the day before the vote and has not yet restored it.
After the results were announced, many neighbourhoods in normally bustling Kampala were unusually quiet as nightfall approached. Soldiers and police who had patrolled throughout the day remained on the streets in large numbers, witnesses said.
“These gunmen are all over and they are ready to kill,” said Innocent Mutambi, 26, a welder. “I am sure what they announced is false, but right now we can’t take them on, they will kill us.”
Hundreds of the president’s supporters rode motorcycles from the election tallying centre to downtown, where people danced with posters bearing the president’s face.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has said he has video proof of voting fraud that he will share once internet connections are restored.
He told Reuters on Saturday that his campaign has evidence that the military forced people at gunpoint to vote for Museveni and engaged in ballot stuffing.