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Uganda’s Museveni Extends Three Decade Rule In Flawed Election

Uganda’s Museveni Extends Three Decade Rule In Flawed Election

As widely expected, Uganda’s long standing President Yoweri Museveni was on Saturday declared the winner of an election that has been criticised by observers as a mockery of democracy.

President Museveni was re-elected for a fifth term, in an election marred by arrests of opposition leaders, protests, allegations of rigging and violence.

He garnered 5.6 million votes, beating his close rival and one time personal doctor Kizza Besigye who had 3.2 million votes, according to the results announced by Uganda Electoral Commission on Saturday.

Museveni’s re-election on a National Resistance Movement was termed as controversial and unfair by the European Union (EU), Commonwealth and the United States government, with the opposition describing it as a sham exercise.

EU’s chief observer, Eduard Kukan, told Reuters that the electoral body played a key part in robbing the poll of its independence and security agencies intimidated the opposition, making it hard to have a fair and transparent poll.

According to EU, Besigye’s arrest and blocking of social communication sites were key areas of concern that denied the poll of its neutrality, independence and transparency.

The United States government, through Secretary of State, John Kerry voiced its concerns at the way the election was conducted adding that Friday’s shutdown of social sites such as Twitter and Facebook and the arrest of Besigye did little to inspire confidence in the election process.


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It also took issue with the way security agencies handled the protesters and opposition leader, urging President Museveni to rein in on his security agencies and provide a free atmosphere for the election.

The Uganda Communications Commission defended its decision to shut down social media sites and said it was necessary due to security reasons, a decision that constituted violation of the freedom of speech and expression to the people of Uganda, according to the European Union.

The opposition criticized the late arrival of election kits in parts of Kampala and Wakiso District, saying that it was a blatant idea by the government in coordination with electoral commission to frustrate its voters who arrived early to cast their votes.

Some polling stations extended the voting process to Friday morning to make up for late arrival of the election materials.

Commonwealth election observer group, led by former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo criticized the delay, adding that it was unjustifiable and dented people’s confidence in the process. It added that the elections failed to meet key democratic benchmarks.

 

During the campaign period, incidents of police using live ammunition, stun grenades and teargas to disperse opposition supporters and also arrests of Besigye further added to the perceived authoritarian ways by the government to ensure Museveni’s re-election.

After Thursday’s polls, Besigye was put under house-arrest and the media reported that anti-riot police had been seen around his rural home in Rukungiri.

According to BBC, police authorities said that the opposition leader had been arrested to prevent him from announcing separate presidential results which is against election laws and could have fuelled violence.

Another rival to Museveni, former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi told Reuters that the election had been fundamentally flawed and that the results were not a reflection of the Ugandan people.

 

Maria Burnett, an Africa specialist for Human Rights Watch, told Voice of America that threats to Ugandans’ human rights had been documented over the years, but in the run-up to the just-ended elections, “there was no hiding the brutality.”

Museveni came into power after a five-year guerrilla war that deposed Tito Okello-led military junta in 1986.

In 2005, Ugandan parliament unanimously removed the presidential term-limit, paving way for his continued hold to power.

The opposition has continually described his tactics as autocratic and a clear sign that he wants to rule for life