Museveni wins Ugandan election

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Candidate Kiiza Besigye

«The rigging exceeded all proportions.»

Kizza Besigye, 14 March - Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni has won the Ugandan presidential election, preparing him for a new five-year term as the country's head of state. According to the national electoral commission, Museveni received 69.3 percent of the vote, but challenger Kizza Besigye says he will not accept the results.

Results so far show Museveni and Besigye winning a total of 98 percent of the votes, totally marginalizing other candidates. The margin between the main rivals is however wide, Besigye receiving 27.8 percent of the vote against Museveni's dominating 69.3 percent. Besigye claims the numbers reflect widespread fraud and intimidation and has announced he will launch a legal challenge against them. Turnout was 70.3 percent. 

If confirmed, the outlined Museveni victory by wide margins opens for the president's second term following his victory in the 1996 elections. It will also be his last term in office, as the constitution provides for only two consecutive terms. Museveni came to power in 1986 through a military campaign and first stood up to elections in 1996. 

Last year, Ugandans supported his opposition to multi-party elections in a referendum, maintaining the "movement political system" as the only system of politics in Uganda. Though ousting political parties (which had had a tendency of promoting ethnical divisions), the system however permits democratic election.

"Fraud and intimidation"
According to an announcement of international election observers, the general picture of the Ugandan poll was that it was run in a peaceful and orderly way. Incidents and irregularities have however been reported by all candidates (including Museveni) and have been documented by the US group Human Rights Watch, concluding that "the Museveni government is trying to win this election by bullying the opposition".

On this background, Besigye and other candidates today said they would be launching a legal challenge against the results. The Media and Publicity Secretary for the Besigye Task Force, Betty Kamya, today stated that "the figures tallied so far exceed the total number of registered voters in Uganda," thus claiming that "the rigging exceeded all proportions." 

Other bases for the legal challenge by the Besigye Task Force will be the intimidation of their polling agents and in some cases the refusal to allow them to monitor the elections in certain areas; failure by the Electoral Commission to display the voter's register on time; and the involvement of the army in the election and intimidation of the electorate.

According to news reports, the Electoral Commission, headed by Hajji Sulaiman Kasujja, has already appealed to the Besigye Task Force to provide it with details of these accusations so they could be properly investigated. 

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman John Ngenda today told the BBC that Besigye should accept "the fact that he has lost, and go home." Members of Museveni's campaign team and his supporters yesterday, as preliminary results came in, already started celebrating their victory. 

Contrary to previous fears, no incidents of major post-election violence have reported. "There is a general sense of calm and discussion continues about the elections results," reports from Kampala state. Businesses started opening up as normal by yesterday afternoon. 

Museveni still popular
By apparently winning the poll with such a wide margin, Museveni can claim success in his campaign, explaining Ugandans the country still needs him for another five years term to secure peace, stability and development. Museveni, though he came to power following a five-year guerrilla war, has been the first post-independence president providing the people with peace and stability. Remembering Ugandan dictators like Milton Mobote and Idi Amin, this has been of big value, especially to people living in war-ridden rural areas.

Museveni's popularity is rooted in the overall political stability and economic growth Uganda has experienced since he came to power in 1986. While admitting that corruption, nepotism and embezzlement were still rife within his administration, president Museveni has been able to point at significant development during his presidency, especially within health care, education, rural economy and security - the sectors most important to Ugandans. 

Museveni has been especially successful in gaining support in rural areas, while Besigye almost reached the numbers of Museveni in some urban areas. Rural areas have mostly benefited from Museveni's policies - most important being the security issue. Further, decentralisation, liberal agricultural policies, infrastructure, health care and the education sector have improved significantly. Besigye's corruption and democratisation arguments therefore seem to have failed to impress the rural population. 

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