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World Ugandans to vote in tense election after violent campaign

05:50  14 january  2021
05:50  14 january  2021 Source:   msn.com

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Ugandans vote Thursday in a highly-charged election after one of the bloodiest campaigns in years, as veteran leader Yoweri Museveni seeks a sixth term against a singer-turned-lawmaker half his age.

Past Ugandan elections have been marred by crackdowns on Mr Museveni’s opponents, but campaigning has been notably violent this time, with dozens killed and rival candidates and campaign teams repeatedly arrested and intimidated.

Ugandans were to cast their votes Thursday in a high-stakes election held under heavy security as veteran leader Yoweri Museveni pursues a sixth term against a former pop star half his age.

map: Uganda © STF Uganda a hand holding a cell phone screen with text: Like this: A staff member at Uganda's electoral commission points to a screen displaying how a ballot paper should be marked © SUMY SADURNI Like this: A staff member at Uganda's electoral commission points to a screen displaying how a ballot paper should be marked

Soldiers swarmed the streets of the capital and authorities blocked access to social media after one of the most violent election campaigns in years.

Some 18 million voters are registered for the presidential and parliamentary vote, which will unfold in nearly 35,000 polling stations.

Uganda to vote following violent pre-election crackdown

  Uganda to vote following violent pre-election crackdown Ugandans vote Thursday in a highly-charged election after one of the bloodiest campaigns in years, as veteran leader Yoweri Museveni seeks a sixth term against a singer-turned-lawmaker half his age. Bobi Wine, the 38-year-old popularly known as the "ghetto president" who hung up the mike to enter politics, leads the opposition field trying to unseat Museveni, a 76-year-old former rebel leader who has ruled since 1986. Some 18 million voters areBobi Wine, the 38-year-old popularly known as the "ghetto president" who hung up the mike to enter politics, leads the opposition field trying to unseat Museveni, a 76-year-old former rebel leader who has ruled since 1986.

Opposition figures in Uganda are criticizing widespread violence by security forces ahead of Thursday's presidential election , while main challenger Bobi Wine said soldiers who raided his home Tuesday morning arrested a security guard and beat two gardeners badly.

Uganda banned social media and beefed up security in the capital on Tuesday, two days ahead of a presidential election pitting Yoweri Museveni, one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, against opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine, a popular singer.

Museveni has ruled Uganda without pause since seizing control in 1986, when he helped to end years of tyranny under Idi Amin.

Once hailed for his commitment to good governance, the former rebel leader has crushed any opposition and tweaked the constitution to allow himself to run again and again.

The rise of opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine, a 38-year-old singer-turned-lawmaker who has cultivated a popular youth following, has rattled Museveni, and fuelled fears he will do whatever it takes to hold onto power.

On the eve of the vote, armoured-personnel carriers with mounted machine guns patrolled parts of Kampala and army helicopters and surveillance drones flew over the teeming capital where the political opposition has traditionally enjoyed support.

Pop star Bobi Wine seeks to unseat five-term president in landmark Ugandan election

  Pop star Bobi Wine seeks to unseat five-term president in landmark Ugandan election Ugandans head to the polls on Thursday as singer-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine looks to deny incumbent President Yoweri Museveni a sixth term. On Tuesday, Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, claimed on Twitter that the army had raided his home and arrested his security guards. The event marked the latest in a series of arrests and violent attacks on Wine himself as well as his supporters, journalists and election officials in recent months.

Mozambique votes in a general election on Tuesday that some fear could test the countrys fragile peace, after a heated campaign marred by violence Around 13 million of Mozambique's 30 million citizens are registered to vote in the polls, which are scheduled to open at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) and

Uganda is holding presidential election ons Thursday. Long-time leader Yoweri Museveni is facing a challenge from opposition frontrunner The run-up to the election has been violent , with government security forces using Images from Uganda 's election campaign have sparked worldwide concern.

Yoweri Museveni et al. looking at the camera: Face time: Masks with pictures of the two frontrunners © SUMY SADURNI Face time: Masks with pictures of the two frontrunners

The military build-up has fanned fears of further election-related violence.

In November, at least 54 people were shot dead by security forces loyal to Museveni during protests against one of Wine's numerous arrests.

"I think this time with a lot of pressure... there might be a lot of violence," said Charles Abigaba, an accountant in Kampala.

"Since the campaign has been (on) everyone is worried," said Andrew Kiiza, a driver.

- Hopes and threats -

The run-up to polling day was marred by a sustained crackdown on Museveni's rivals and government critics, and unprecedented attacks on the nation's media and human rights defenders.

Yoweri Museveni, Bobi Wine are posing for a picture: Frontrunners: President Yoweri Museveni, left, and musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine © Sumy Sadurni Frontrunners: President Yoweri Museveni, left, and musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine

The US, EU, UN and global rights and democracy groups have raised concerns about the integrity and transparency of the election.

Ugandan election pits reggae singer against long-serving Museveni

  Ugandan election pits reggae singer against long-serving Museveni Ugandan election pits reggae singer against long-serving MuseveniReggae artist Bobi Wine, 38, is channelling the anger of many young Ugandans who say former guerrilla leader Museveni, now 76, is an out-of-touch dictator failing to tackle rampant unemployment and surging public debt.

Uganda has blocked access to social media and messaging apps ahead of Thursday's hotly contested election . A letter, seen by AFP and Reuters, was " Violence , terror seem to be scaled up with every coming election . This election has witnessed untold violence . It gets worse and worse by the day

While previous elections have been marred by crackdowns on the opposition, campaigning this time has been particularly violent . With nearly 80% of its people under 30, Uganda has one of Africa's youngest populations. That means the majority of Ugandans were born after Museveni took power in

Only one foreign organisation, the African Union (AU), has sent monitors, along with an AU women's group.

On Wednesday, the United States, a major aid donor to Uganda, announced it was cancelling a diplomatic observer mission after too many of its staff were denied permission to monitor the election.

In a statement, US ambassador Natalie Brown warned the refusal meant the election "will lack the accountability, transparency and confidence" brought by independent oversight.

On Tuesday, Museveni announced the suspension of social media networks and messaging services like Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp in response to Facebook closing accounts linked to government officials the tech giant said were spreading misinformation.

Wine is the strongest of 10 opposition contenders trying to unseat Museveni.

But most observers expect the ageing president and his ruling National Resistance Movement to emerge victorious.

He has never lost an election, and has been counting down the days to victory in confident campaign advertisements, promising to invest more in infrastructure, health and education and build Uganda's economy.

But Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has accused the president of presiding over corruption and failing to deliver jobs.

- Generation gap -

The population has a median age of less than 16, and many Ugandans have never known anyone but Museveni in charge.

"This time around, we hope there might be a change. We hope," said Abigada.

Wine has vowed non-violent street protests should Ugandans feel the election was stolen. The opposition leader has urged them to turn out in large numbers and vote, saying they should not fear intimidation by the authorities.

Museveni, who has suggested Wine is supported by foreign and criminal elements, warned his opponents against taking to the streets.

"If you use violence to protest against an election result, that is treason," Museveni warned in a national address Tuesday.

Polls are open from 7:00am-4:00pm (0400-1200 GMT). Results are expected by Saturday evening.

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