Ugandans vote in charged election under Internet blackout

KAMPALA (AFP) – Ugandans began voting in a tense election yesterday under heavy security and an Internet blackout as veteran leader Yoweri Museveni pursues a sixth term against a former pop star half his age.

The Internet went down on the eve of the vote, with some parts of the country reporting complete disruptions or significant slowdowns, after one of the most violent campaigns in years.

Museveni is seeking a sixth term in office, having ruled for almost four decades, against singer-turned-MP Bobi Wine, 38, whose popularity among a youthful population has rattled the former rebel leader.

In the Kamwokya slum, where Wine grew up and is hugely popular, voters streamed to a polling station as police tried to enforce social distancing after weeks of surging coronavirus cases in the East African nation.

A group of about two dozen riot officers marched past, with heavy military and police presence in other parts of the capital.

“I am here to change the leadership of this nation because for years they’ve been telling me they will secure my future. They have not done that,” said driver Joseph Nsuduga, 30, one of the first in line to vote.

“I need to see change for my children. People are yearning for change but we are seeing nothing.”

Voting was delayed in several locations in the capital Kampala, beginning about half an hour after the official starting time of 7am (0400 GMT). Polls close at 4pm (1200 GMT).

Some 18 million voters are registered for the presidential and parliamentary vote, and results are expected by tomorrow.

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