Polls have closed and vote counting is under way in Uganda’s tense presidential election that pits longtime President Yoweri Museveni against opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine, a pop star-turned-opposition leader.
The run-up to Thursday’s vote was plagued by the worst political violence in years, with more than 50 people killed by security forces amid crackdowns on opposition rallies, as well as the repeated intimidation and arrest of opposition figures. Police say their actions are necessary to ensure compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.
Musician-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.
“Such acts of impunity are all kicks of a dying horse,” the 38-year-old said, before imploring Museveni to explain the arrests of his campaign team, assistants and supporters.
Internet access has been cut off, and there are fears of unrest as security forces try to stop supporters of leading opposition challenger Bobi Wine from monitoring polling stations.
At polling stations in Kampala visited by Al Jazeera, voting began more than 60 minutes late after election materials did not arrive on time.
Museveni, who has wielded power since 1986, is seeking a sixth term against a stiff challenge from Bobi Wine, whose popularity among a youthful population has rattled the 76-year-old former rebel leader. Nine other challengers are also trying to unseat Museveni.
More than 18 million people have registered to take part in the polls. A candidate must win more than 50 percent to avoid a runoff vote. Parliamentary polls are also being held.