Yoweri Museveni declared presidential election winner; challenger under house arrest

February 20, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Gloria Nakiyimba

Uganda’s incumbent Yoweri Museveni has been declared the winner of Presidential elections held this week.

At about 3:50 pm East African Standard Time, the Chair person of Uganda’ s electoral commission Engineer Badru Kiggundu started the process of declaration.

Engineer Kiggundu declared Yoweri Kaguta Museveni of the National Resistance Movement-NRM the winner of the February 18th elections with 5,617,503 votes reflecting 60.75% giving him a landslide victory.

His main challenger from the opposition Forum for Democratic Change-FDC retired Col. Dr. Warren Kizza Kifeefe Besigye polled 3,270,290 votes putting him in the runner up position with 35.37%.

Independent candidate of Go Forward and former Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi bagged 132, 574 votes reflecting 1.43%.

 

Other contestants in the race performed as follows:

Dr. Abed Bwanika of the People’s Development Party polled 86,075 votes giving him a 0.93%

Former Makerere University Vice Chancellor and Independent candidate Venansius Baryamureeba bagged 51,086 votes reflecting 0.55%

General Benon Biraaro of the Farmers’ Party of Uganda managed a miserly 24, 675 votes, giving him 0.27% of the total vote

Joseph Elton Mabirizi, an independent candidate, trailed with 23,763 votes, that is 0.26%

The only woman in the presidential race running on the independent ticket Maureen Kyalya Walube collected 40,598 votes with 0.44%

 

“Now therefore candidate Yoweri  Kaguta Museveni who has obtained the highest number of votes in the election and the votes cast in his favour being more than 50% of the valid votes cast at the election, the Commission declares Yoweri Kaguta Museveni elected President of the Republic of Uganda” Kigundu declared.

As the commissioner was declaring Mr. Museveni the winner Dr. Kiiza Besigye was at his home under house arrest.

On Saturday police besieged his home in Kansangati and no one, not even the media was allowed to access his home. Road blocks were mounted along Gayaza road, the route to his home, with road users subjected to heavy checks.

In the city centre of Kampala there is a heavy deployment of police on streets while deployments are also reported on the major highways entering the city.

 

International Election Observers speak out

 

While addressing the media hours before the declaration, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, heading the Commonwealth Observers mission, noted with concern the delay of delivery of voting materials that led to the delay of voting exercise in Kampala and its environs. In some areas voting was delayed for more up to 4 hours. He cited incidents of violence when incomplete materials were delivered adding to long delays forcing the electoral commission to extend the exercise to a second day in Kampala.

“The inexcusable delay of supply of materials to polling stations, particularly in Kampala and its environs and other deficiencies in the process, will have seriously detracted from fairness and credibility of the results of the elections.”

Lack of clear, consistent and extensive messaging of the extended time was a concern, as well as the inconsistent application of procedures by polling officials, inadequate preparation for voting and counting at night.

President Obasanjo noted with concern that the continued use of voting basins compromised the secrecy of the ballot in more confined polling locations.

However, he pointed out that polling stations’ count process was transparent, and that their team followed the process at several polling stations in a number of constituencies.

The Commonwealth Observers mission also expressed distress about the involvement of crime preventers under the police force in the electoral process.

“We had many concerns regarding the use of so called crime preventers during the electoral process that many of them would support the police as election constables at polling stations. We have heard the reasons given by the authority for the existence of such a force, but do not believe that there is any place for such a state sanctioned militia. The absence of a clear legal framework, mean their establishment, role and consequent lack of accountability are of concern to us. On Election Day we observed and received reports of some instances where election constables sought to influence the work of polling officials ” said Mr. Obasanjo.

Another matter of concern for the Commonwealth Observers was the arrest of opposition FDC candidate Kiiza Besigye who was arrested three times before election, on Election Day and after the elections.

Besigye was first arrested on Monday as he attempted to do his last campaigns in the capital Kampala. Police deployed tear gas to disperse his supporters who were protesting his arrest.

On 18th February Besigye was again arrested and later delivered to his home by the police when he demanded to access a house in  Naguru, a suburb of Kampala, after suspecting that vote rigging and ballot staffing was taking place in the building.

“The arrests over the past three days of some leaders of the opposition have been seen as unnecessary intimidation that could intensify tension” he said.

Eduard Kukan, Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission decried the intimidation by state actors and arrest of chief opposition challenger in the run up and after polling day.

“The EU EOM in its Preliminary Statement notes that the pre-election campaign was marked by a polarised discourse and an intimidating atmosphere, which was mainly created by state actors and which affected both voters and candidates.”

He noted with concern the ruling party; National Resistance Movement’s domination of the political landscape which he says distorted the fairness of the campaign and state actors who created an intimidating atmosphere for both voters and candidates, which continued in the days immediately following elections.

“I saw the remarkable commitment of Ugandans to participate in their electoral process. Regrettably the Electoral Commission failed to communicate effectively steps that would have been needed to overcome growing tensions caused by the markedly delayed delivery of the voting material. Moreover, the decision to block access to social media on Election Day added to overall uncertainty and unreasonably constrained freedom of expression and access to information,” said Eduard Kukan.

Mr. Kukan also noted that the tallying process in the majority of cases was described as slow, yet calm. However, the environment outside district tally centres was tense, with tear gas being used by the police in several locations.

“Yesterday, while the National Tally Centre was announcing the preliminary results of the presidential polls and the political parties were still following tallying and collecting data from their agents in the field, the police stormed FDC’s party headquarters using tear gas and arrested the flag bearer Kizza Besigye and the party’s leadership. This extensive use of police force was not acceptable” Kukan noted.

The Electoral Institution for Sustainable Democracy in Africa –EISA observation mission head, former Zambian President Rupiah Banda, in their preliminary report noted that the elections were largely peaceful but there were shortfalls that undermined essential aspects of electoral integrity.

He condemned the shutdown of social media platforms for the last three days which he says fails to embrace the tenet of freedom of speech. He expressed concern over the use of inflammatory and intimidating language by the authorities, citizens and people involved in campaigns. EISA has appealed to candidates and parties to address disputes in appropriate channels and refrain from reprisal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gloria Nakiyimba

Gloria has experience spanning more than five years in Journalism, particularly in field reporting, editing, newscasting and management. She is currently working with Capital Radio Limited [91.3 Capital FM and 96.3 Beat FM] as Head of News, a position she has held since 2010.

Gloria previously worked as the Kampala Correspondent for Radio France International [RFI] generating local story leads with international inference for RFI’s global audience. She also served as Political Editor for The Weekly Mail Newspaper as well as Online Content Editor for the California based Ugandan broadcaster KubutakaRadio.com.

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