Heavy security in Ugandan capital after "irregular" elections

Soldiers and police patrolled the streets of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Sunday after President Yoweri Museveni's victory in an election marred by violence and irregularities.

Shops remain closed and there were no celebrations visible on the streets, the day after Museveni was announced the winner of the February 18 polls, allowing him to extend his 30-year grip on power.

Museveni, 71, received 60 per cent of the 9.7 million votes cast in Thursday's elections, which international observers said were riddled with irregularities.

His main rival and runner-up, Kizza Besigye, who won 35 per cent of the votes, is still under house arrest, his party spokesman told dpa on Sunday. 

Security forces have set up a road block on a road to Besigye’s home in the north of the city.

"The mood of the people is very, very sombre," Kampala resident Geoffrey Muleme told dpa.

"All of us have become cold. We feel cheated. Why can’t Museveni just declare himself life president instead of wasting people’s time in elections?"

Election observer groups decried state harassment of the opposition, both before and after the elections. 

The EU Election Observation Mission said there were "shortcomings" in the election process, notably in the areas of "neutrality, transparency and the effectiveness of the election administration"

"The Uganda Communications Commission blocked access to social media on Election Day, which constitutes a severe restriction on citizens' communication," a statement from the mission read.

"Moreover, the taking into police custody of opposition leader Mr Kizza Besigye several times is contrary to basic democratic principles."

Popular radio talk show host Charles Mpagi Mwangutsha told dpa that the mood of the Ugandan people is sombre due to the controversies surrounding the election.

"It is difficult to have a cerebration when the overall winner in the elections is not declared the winner," he said.

Museveni thanked voters at a post-election news conference in his south-western home of Rwakitula.

"Wherever I went during the campaigns, people told me about their annoyances and these included corruption. But I thank them for voting maturely,” he said in a televised address.

Violence erupted in the capital Kampala on Friday, a day after the presidential and parliamentary elections, when police stormed Besigye's party offices, arrested him with several others and charged him with illegally running a parallel vote-counting centre.

The arrest sparked widespread rioting in the capital. Gunfire was heard, tear gas was used and 18 people were reported to have been injured, 10 of them seriously.

Museveni came to power in 1986 following a guerrilla campaign. He has won four elections since 1996.

Last update: Sun, 21/02/2016 - 13:14
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