‘Not value my life’: Ugandans vote in tense election

Longtime President Yoweri Museveni, an authoritarian who has wielded energy since 1986, seeks a sixth time period in opposition to a powerful problem from Wine, a preferred younger singer-turned-opposition lawmaker. 9 different challengers try to unseat Museveni.

Wine, whose actual identify is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has seen many associates jailed or go into hiding as safety forces crack down on opposition supporters they worry may mount a avenue rebellion resulting in regime change. Wine insists he’s operating a nonviolent marketing campaign.

Wine, of the Nationwide Unity Platform celebration, has mentioned he doesn’t consider the election is free and truthful. He has urged supporters to linger close to polling stations to guard their votes. However the electoral fee, which the opposition sees as weak, has mentioned all voters should return dwelling after casting ballots.

“This election has already been rigged,” one other opposition candidate, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, advised native broadcaster NTV as polls opened, including that “we won’t settle for the result of this election.”

The federal government’s resolution this week to close down entry to social media in retaliation over Fb’s removing of Museveni-linked Ugandan accounts accused of inauthentic habits was meant “to restrict the eyes on the election and, subsequently, cover one thing,” mentioned Crispin Kaheru, an unbiased election observer.

Web entry was lower Wednesday evening. “It doesn’t matter what they do, the world is watching,” Wine tweeted.

The 76-year-old Museveni’s assist has historically been concentrated in rural areas the place many credit score him with restoring a way of peace and safety that was misplaced through the regimes of dictators together with Idi Amin.

Safety forces have deployed closely within the space that encompasses the capital, Kampala, the place the opposition has sturdy assist partly due to rampant unemployment even amongst school graduates.

“Museveni is placing all of the deployments in city areas the place the opposition has a bonus,” mentioned Gerald Bareebe, an assistant professor of political science at Canada’s York College. “If you happen to ask many Ugandans now, they are saying the poll paper shouldn’t be value my life.”

Some younger folks mentioned they might vote regardless of the obvious dangers.

“This authorities has dominated us badly. They’ve actually squeezed us,” mentioned Allan Sserwadda, a automobile washer. “They’ve dominated us for years and so they say they’ve concepts. However they don’t seem to be the one ones who’ve concepts.”

Requested if the heavy army deployment fazed him, he smiled and mentioned: “If we’re to die, allow us to die. Now there isn’t a distinction between being alive and being lifeless. Bullets can discover you anyplace. They’ll discover you at dwelling. They’ll discover you on the veranda.”

At the very least 54 folks had been killed in Uganda in November as safety forces put down riots provoked by the arrest of Wine for allegedly violating marketing campaign laws geared toward stopping the unfold of the coronavirus.

Wine, who gained a seat within the nationwide meeting in 2017, has captured the creativeness of many in Uganda, and elsewhere in Africa, together with his daring requires the retirement of Museveni, whom he sees as part of a corrupt outdated guard.

Museveni has dismissed the 38-year-old Wine as “an agent of overseas pursuits” who can’t be trusted with energy. Wine has been arrested many occasions, usually for allegedly disobeying lawful orders, however has by no means been convicted.

Museveni, who many years in the past criticized African leaders over not leaving energy, now seeks extra time in workplace after lawmakers jettisoned the final constitutional impediment — age limits — on a doable life presidency.

The rise of Wine as a nationwide chief with out ties to the regime has raised the stakes throughout the ruling Nationwide Resistance Motion celebration.

“(Ruling) celebration members and supporters must know that it is a watershed election to form, decide and set up a Museveni successor,” authorities spokesman Ofwono Opondo just lately wrote within the Sunday Imaginative and prescient newspaper.

The African Union and East African bloc have deployed election observer missions however the European Union has not, reportedly as a result of suggestions in its earlier experiences had been ignored. The EU delegation to Uganda mentioned “a proposal to deploy a small workforce of electoral specialists was not taken up. The position of native observers will probably be much more necessary than earlier than.”

The EU, U.N. and others have warned Uganda’s safety forces in opposition to utilizing extreme power.

Ugandan elections are sometimes marred by allegations of fraud and alleged abuses by the safety forces. The nation has by no means witnessed a peaceable handover of energy since independence from Britain in 1962.

Copyright 2021 The Related Press. All rights reserved. This materials will not be printed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.

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