Uganda’s longtime leader Yoweri Museveni has been re-elected for a sixth term amid allegations of fraud and lack of transparency around the vote count.
The country’s election commission on Saturday announced that Museveni won 58.64% of the nearly 10 million ballots cast, while his strongest opposition Bobi Wine received 34.83% of the vote.
The country’s election commission chairman Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama stated;
The electoral commission declares Yoweri Museveni… elected President of the Republic of Uganda.
The results follow months of campaigning that was marred by deadly violence and heavy-handed state security responses to anti-Museveni protests, as well as the arrests of civil society members.
Wine – a singer-turned-politician, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi — was put under house arrest Friday and remains holed up under heavy military guard. His wife was also arrested at some point and physically assaulted by security operatives.
He accused the electoral commission of vote rigging, an allegation the agency has dismissed.
Ugandans voted in the poll on Thursday amid a government-ordered internet shutdown. In a speech Tuesday, Museveni confirmed his government had ordered internet providers block Facebook and other social media, accusing the platforms of “arrogance.” By morning of election day, the order was extended.
Wine had campaigned heavily on social media as some traditional outlets refused to include him in their election coverage.
The internet blackout raised questions around the integrity of the vote count and also meant biometric machines failed to register ballots, forcing many polling stations to use manual voting and checks, BBC reports.
There were reports of late delivery of voting material and insufficient material at numerous polling locations. Journalists traveling to Wine’s residence for a press conference were turned back by security forces before reaching his home. Many were also forced to leave the national election tally center, despite having accreditation.
Before casting his ballot on Thursday, Wine addressed the media and complained that the majority of his polling agents across the country had been prevented from observing the election by police. Ugandan law guarantees that every candidate is allowed representation at polling locations.
Wine reiterated his calls for the United States and European Union to hold Museveni and his government “accountable to free and fair elections,” accusing the leader of forcing the country to “carry out elections in the dark” with his internet blackout.
However, US Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown in a statement on Wednesday said US monitors would not observe the vote as hoped after the election commission denied 75% of the country’s accreditation requests.
Also, EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said the commission rejected its offer of monitors, despite having observed three elections between 2006 and 2016.