Longtime President Yoweri Museveni faces a daunting challenge from pop star turned opposition leader Bobi Wine as he seeks a sixth term.
Voting is underway in Uganda, in a tense presidential election pitting longtime President Yoweri Museveni against Bobi Wine, an opposition leader turned pop star turned opposition leader.
The run-up to Thursday’s vote was marked by the worst political violence in years, with more than 50 people killed by security forces in crackdown on opposition rallies, as well as intimidation and arrests repeated by opposition figures. Police say their actions are necessary to ensure compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.
Internet access has been cut and fears of unrest exist as security forces try to prevent supporters of main opposition opponent Bobi Wine from monitoring polling stations.
Museveni, who has held power since 1986, is seeking a sixth term against a tall order from Bobi Wine, whose popularity among a young population has rocked the 76-year-old former rebel leader. Nine other challengers also attempt to overthrow Museveni.
Over 18 million people have signed up to take the polls. A candidate must win more than 50% to avoid a second ballot. The counting of the votes will begin when the polling stations close at 4 p.m. (1 p.m. GMT) and the results are expected within 48 hours. Parliamentary polls are also organized.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Uganda elections. It’s Hamza Mohamed.
According to Catherine Wambua-Soi, from Al Jazeera, from a Wakiso district polling station in Kampala, the late arrival of voting materials resulted in delays.
#UgandaDecides2021 voting about to start at the Freedom Square polling station. It was heard on the radio that several other polling stations had not yet received voting materials @PMugoMugo pic.twitter.com/C5rsByLd7r
– Catherine Wambua- Soi (@C_SOI) January 14, 2021
Who is Bobi Wine?
Bobi Wine, real name Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, grew up in Kamwokya, a slum in central Kampala, with dozens of siblings and half-brothers. Prior to entering politics, Bobi Wine was a so-called “ghetto president”.
It was in Kamwokya that he started making music, producing a number of reggae, pop and hip hop hits. But his music has become more and more political over time.
In songs such as Rise Up and Freedom, he complained about corruption and called for change. And in 2017, Bobi Wine was elected Independent Member of Parliament for Kyadondo East, winning by a landslide.
Learn more about Wine Bobi here.
04:00 GMT – High security polls open
Ugandans began to vote under high security and an Internet blackout which made many complaints.
Voting has been delayed in several locations in the capital, Kampala, starting about half an hour after the official start time of 7:00 a.m. (04:00 GMT), and will continue until 4:00 p.m. (12:00 GMT).