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More than 34,000 voting centers were set up in Uganda for presidential and legislative elections marked by violence and accusations of repression. The day began with delays in the opening of several polling stations under a strong military presence and with restrictions on communications.
From the early hours of the morning of this January 14, long lines were reported throughout the country to exercise the right to vote, despite the security measures to control Covid-19 infections. In these legislative and presidential elections, about 71.6 million Ugandans will have to choose between Yoweri Museveni – in his sixth presidential term – and his main opponent, the rap singer and businessman, Bobi Wine.
The different press agencies reported delays in the opening of various polling stations of between half an hour and two hours, especially in neighborhoods and opposition fiefdoms, due to lack of electoral material. The day also began with the fall of the Internet in various parts of the country.
The strong military presence on this voting day deepens the feeling of repression after one of the most violent campaigns in recent years, which ended on Tuesday with the suspension until further notice of social networks and messaging services in this country of East africa.
Strong military presence after a bloody and repressive campaign
The Government deployed the Army on January 1 and the streets of the capital, Kampala, are guarded by vehicles with large-caliber weapons.
On December 27, the police killed three journalists and a bodyguard of the opposition Bobi Wine after a massive act with his followers and in November at least 54 people were killed by forces loyal to the president during a protest over the arrest of the opposition leader.
The Government justified these acts by claiming that it was trying to stop illegal meetings during the Covid-19 crisis. The opposition, however, claimed that rally bans in some parts of the country were a smokescreen to justify the crackdown. Despite this climate of insecurity and intimidation, the population went out en masse to vote on January 14.
The crowd cheered for Wine when he arrived at his polling station. “We have done everything possible to observe and monitor this election,” said the opposition leader, who has managed to gain the confidence of the youth and large masses of the country, tired of unemployment and corruption.
A strong polarization marks the electoral campaign
The campaign has also been marked by strong polarization around the two main candidates. On the one hand, there is a youth – the average age of the country is 16 years – tired of the current government that has not managed to eliminate unemployment and corruption after almost 40 years in power, who also see Museveni as a dictatorial figure because they do not know another president in their life.
“I’m tired of Museveni because he has no new ideas,” 40-year-old Joseph Kinobe told Reuters, showing that it is not only the young population that is in favor of Wine. However, on the other hand, there is a good part of the rural population that sees Wine as an inexperienced young man and still trusts Museveni as the only one capable of maintaining stability in the country.
Although the elections are just taking place, Wine has already announced that it will not recognize the results if there is the slightest indication of irregularities.
With Reuters, EFE and AFP.