Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni won a fifth term on Saturday, extending his three-decade rule in a vote rejected as fraudulent by an opposition leader under house arrest and criticised by the international community. The veteran 71-year-old won 60 percent of the vote in the sometimes chaotic elections, far ahead of the 35 percent garnered by detained opposition chief Kizza Besigye, whose house was surrounded by dozens of armed police in riot gear. Large numbers of police and troops have been deployed on the streets of the capital Kampala, which appeared calm immediately after the widely expected victory for Museveni was declared. Besigye slammed the results as a fraud, saying in a message to the international community: “Should you ratify the results of these sham elections, at least have the courage to admit that you do not care about democracy or human rights in Africa.”
The US criticised “irregularities” in the vote, including accusations of vote buying and rigging, which a State Department spokesman said was “deeply inconsistent with international standards and expectations for any democratic process”.
International observers also raised the red flag, warning that Uganda’s electoral commission lacked transparency and accusing the police of heavy-handed treatment of the opposition.
Local election officials appealed for calm, with Election Commission chief Badru Kiggundu calling on Ugandans to “be prepared to exhibit more tolerance”. “The outcome of an elections can either tear or build a country,” he said shortly before declaring Museveni the winner. “We love this country and you Ugandans love your country.”