Uganda's Yoweri Museveni declared winner of presidential election

Long-time Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of the presidential election, but the main opposition party rejected the results as fraudulent.

Ben Curtis/AP/File
Uganda's long-time President Yoweri Museveni adjusts his hat, as he attends an election rally at Kololo Airstrip in Kampala, Uganda, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016. Uganda election commission declared President Yoweri Museveni the winner of elections Saturday, with more than 60 percent of vote.

Long-time Ugandan leader Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of the presidential election, with more than 60 percent of the votes, but the main opposition party rejected the results as fraudulent.

Museveni's nearest rival, opposition leader Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change party, got 35 percent, according to final results announced by the election commission.

Besigye himself was under house arrest as Museveni was declared the winner, with heavily armed police standing guard near his residence on the outskirts of the capital, Kampala.

Museveni's ruling party, the National Resistance Movement, urged "all candidates to respect the will of the people and the authority of the electoral commission and accept the result. We ask all Ugandans to remain calm and peaceful and not to engage in any public disruptions." The party released the statement shortly after the results were announced.

However Besigye's opposition party appealed to "all Ugandans and the international community to reject and condemn the fraud that has been committed and to expose it to the fullest extent possible. Clearly what we are witnessing in the choreographed announcements of the fraudulent results is part of a creeping political coup d'état."

The election on Thursday was marred by lengthy delays in the delivery of polling materials, some incidents of violence as well as a government shutdown of social media which is ongoing.

The election was marked by an "intimidating atmosphere, which was mainly created by state actors," said the European Union observer mission. Uganda's election commission lacks independence and transparency and does not have the trust of all the parties, EU mission leader Eduard Kukan told reporters Saturday. Opposition supporters were harassed by law enforcement officials in more than 20 districts, according to the EU's preliminary report.

Police on Friday surrounded the headquarters of the FDC opposition party as Besigye met with members and a helicopter fired tear gas at a crowd outside. Police then moved in and took away Besigye, a 59-year-old doctor. He was later taken to his house which was guarded by police who prevented access to journalists.

After Besigye's arrest on Friday, his supporters took to the streets. Riot police lobbed tear gas and stun grenades at them and fired warning shots from automatic rifles, then chased them through narrow alleys, arresting some.

Besigye's party is alleging massive vote rigging and accuses the government of deliberately stalling voting in opposition strongholds in Kampala and the neighboring Wakiso district.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone with Museveni "to underscore that Uganda's progress depends on adherence to democratic principles in the ongoing election process," the State Department said. Kerry urged Museveni to rein in the security forces.

The 71-year-old Museveni took power by force in 1986 and pulled Uganda out of years of chaos after a guerrilla war. He is a key U.S. ally on security matters, especially in Somalia. Critics fear he may want to rule for life and they accuse him of using security forces to intimidate the opposition.

Besigye was Museveni's personal physician during the bush war and served as deputy interior minister in his first Cabinet. He broke with the president in 1999, saying Museveni was no longer a democrat.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.