Ugandans vote on Thursday in a presidential election pitting long-time chief Yoweri Museveni in opposition to 10 candidates together with opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine, a singer-turned-lawmaker whose star energy has rattled the ruling celebration.
Scores of opposition protesters have been killed throughout a marketing campaign scarred by crackdowns on Wine’s rallies which the authorities say contravene curbs on gatherings to cease the unfold of COVID-19.
Army personnel have been deployed throughout the capital Kampala to bolster the police with columns of troopers patrolling suburbs amid fears the presidential and legislative elections on Jan. 14 may descend into violence.
At 38, Wine is half Museveni’s age and the singer recognized for catchy protest songs has attracted a big following amongst youthful individuals within the East African nation, the place 80% of the inhabitants are beneath 30 and two-thirds unemployed.
In Kampala, vehicles plastered with yellow Museveni posters blaring music wind by means of bustling streets whereas Wine’s red-and-blue posters adorn busy intersections, with younger males available to wipe off any mud gathering on them.
When Museveni seized energy in 1986 after a five-year guerrilla warfare, he was welcomed by Ugandans worn down by the murderous regimes of Milton Obote and Idi Amin.
However accusations of corruption, official extravagance, rights abuses and nepotism have progressively eroded assist for Museveni, who’s 76, particularly amongst youthful voters who wish to Wine for change.
“Hospitals in Uganda died. Faculties are useless. Electrical energy is so costly,” mentioned David Kafero, a 35-year-old father of 4 who dropped out of faculty as a result of he couldn’t pay the charges and calls himself a “ghetto boy” who will get by doing odd jobs.
‘SECURITY AND PEACE’
Museveni has received each election because the first beneath his presidency in 1996, although they’ve been tarnished by the intimidation of opposition candidates in addition to accusations of vote rigging.
Uganda is a Western ally, a potential oil producer and is taken into account a stabilising drive in a area the place warfare has plagued neighbours akin to Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. It additionally contributes the largest contingent of an African Union drive combating Islamist insurgents in Somalia.
Older voters akin to Benon Kamoga, a 50-year-old father of 9, credit score Museveni, the fourth-longest ruler in Africa, with sustaining stability and plan to reward him on Thursday.
“We’ve safety and peace. I can get up in the course of the evening and go and do no matter enterprise I need with none fear,” Kamoga mentioned.
In campaigns Museveni, trumpets his achievements in power and transport, akin to constructing hydropower dams, roads and driving industrial growth. At one rally he additionally did press-ups to show he was nonetheless energetic regardless of his age.
“Museveni has been round for 34 years however … he has not imposed himself on individuals. He has at all times subjected himself to recent elections each after 5 years and Ugandans say it’s you we wish,” mentioned Rogers Mulindwa, spokesman for the ruling Nationwide Resistance Motion (NRM) celebration.
Uganda’s parliament, which is dominated by the NRM, has twice modified the structure to permit Museveni to run, first eradicating a two-term restrict in 2005 after which abolishing the age restrict of 75 in 2017.
Whereas opinion polls are few and much between, analysts say rampant unemployment, slowing financial progress and surging public debt have fuelled youth disaffection with Museveni’s authorities.
“An entire era has come to develop beneath this regime and has come of age,” mentioned David Ngendo Tshimba, an educational on the Uganda Martyrs College. “‘One thing new is best’ looms massive for this era.”
In his songs, Wine, who grew up in a Kampala slum and whose actual title is Robert Kyagulanyi, decries freedom fighters who’ve grow to be dictators and the dearth of a peaceable transition.
He has pledged to create 5 million jobs and rein in graft he says has drained sources that could possibly be invested in public providers and revive progress in a rustic of 46 million individuals.
Since campaigning started in November, safety forces have repeatedly damaged up Wine’s rallies with tear gasoline, rubber bullets, beatings and detentions. Wine has been arrested a number of instances and now campaigns in a helmet and flak jacket.
In a single incident in November, 54 individuals had been killed as troopers and police quelled protests after Wine was detained.
Museveni has appointed a military normal as deputy police chief final month and one other normal who headed a contingent in Somalia is overseeing safety operations for the Kampala space.
“There may be a variety of fatigue with Museveni. If the inhabitants was not afraid of the navy, they’d stand up,” mentioned Godber Tumushabe, affiliate director of the Nice Lakes Institute for Strategic Research, a think-tank in Kampala.
“The Museveni regime is accountable for the establishments of the state and can use them to make sure the regime stays in energy.”