Ugandans began voting on Thursday in a presidential election that pits President Yoweri Museveni, in power for three decades, against a long-time rival who said he did not believe the vote would be “free and fair.”
All sides contesting the election accuse each other of stoking tensions and assembling vigilante groups, and the leading opposition candidates have predicted vote rigging. “Such a day is highly undermined by the lack of free and fair elections,” opposition candidate Kizza Besigye said as he cast his vote in Rukungiri village in western Uganda. Besigye, 59, has run unsuccessfully in three previous elections.
Museveni, 71, came to power in 1986 after waging a five-year guerrilla war and many Ugandans credit him with providing relative peace and economic stability. He is a staunch U.S. ally; Ugandan soldiers lead an African Union peacekeeping force against Islamist fighters in Somalia.
But many voters among Uganda’s youthful population say they want change and blame Museveni for not tackling endemic corruption or creating enough jobs. “I was a baby when Museveni came in. Now, even my own children are seeing that same face. Is he the only one who can rule this country?” asked Uthman Kalyango, 32.
His polling station was among many in the capital, Kampala, which opened hours after the official opening of polling at 7 am local time (0400 GMT), worrying many voters. Read more