Long-time leader Yoweri Museveni was heading for a resounding win in Uganda’s presidential election with nearly all votes counted on Saturday, although his main rival Bobi Wine alleged widespread fraud.
With ballots from 91% of polling stations counted following Thursday’s election, Museveni had won 5.6 million, or 58.9%, while main opposition candidate Wine had 3.3 million votes (34.6%), the Electoral Commission said just after 12 p.m. (0900 GMT). Final results were expected later in the day.
Security personnel and police were out in force patrolling the capital, Kampala, on Saturday. The government ordered the internet shut down the day before the election, and the blackout was still in place.
Wine, 38, had galvanised young Ugandans with his calls for political change after 35 years of Museveni, 76, ruling the country.
Security forces had sealed off a wide perimeter around Wine’s sprawling compound on Saturday and told international journalists they were not permitted to enter, witnesses said.
Luke Owoyesigyire, deputy spokesman for Kampala’s metropolitan police, said he was unaware that reporters were being blocked and would make checks, but was later unreachable. It was not immediately possible to reach Wine for comment.
The singer-turned-lawmaker said on Friday that he was under siege and his life was in danger. Police said that they had merely boosted their deployment in his neighbourhood for his security.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said on Friday he had video proof of voting fraud, and would share the videos as soon as internet connections were restored.
Electoral Commission Chairman Simon Byabakama said on Friday that under Ugandan law, the burden of proof rested with Wine.
Reuters has not independently verified Wine’s claims.
The United States and the European Union did not deploy observer teams, but the U.S. State Department’s top diplomat for Africa, Tibor Nagy, said in a tweet early on Saturday that the “electoral process has been fundamentally flawed”.
He cited fraud reports, denial of accreditation to observers, violence and harassment of opposition members, and the arrest of civil society activists.
The African Union and East African Community sent observer teams to the election, but neither group of officials responded to requests for comment about possible irregularities.
Police recorded 42 election-related offences nationwide during voting and tallying so far, police spokesman Fred Enanga said on Friday night on local NBS TV. Offences included assaults, voter bribery, and theft and damage of electoral materials, he said.
The run-up to Thursday’s election was more violent than in previous polls. Security forces cracked down on opposition candidates and their supporters during the campaign, and more than 50 people died in protests in November on one of the multiple occasions when Wine was arrested.
The government ordered an internet blackout on Wednesday, the day before polling, until further notice. On Tuesday, it banned all social media and messaging apps.
Wine and his supporters used Facebook to relay live coverage of his campaign events and news conferences after he said many media outlets had declined to host him.
In the parliamentary election, where candidates were vying for 529 seats, results were still coming in but Ugandan media reported that at least 19 candidate from Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) had won their races, while the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), previously the country’s largest opposition party, has so far won 17 seats.
The FDC won 35 seats in the 2016 election, but the NUP had no seats in the previous parliament – Wine was elected as an independent and joined the party last year.