Supporters of Ugandan presidential candidate and singer Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known as Bobi Wine, run behind his convoy, after he cast a ballot in the presidential elections in Kampala, Uganda, January 14, 2021. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

Vote counting was underway in Uganda after residents went to the polls Thursday in a tense election plagued by violence and clampdowns on internet access that Twitter and Facebook compared to censorship. Challengers led by reggae singer Bobi Wine hope to unseat longtime president Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking a sixth term and has wielded power since 1986. Long lines of voters snaked into the distance in the capital, Kampala, but voting in almost all areas was reportedly peaceful. 

“This is a miracle,” mechanic Steven Kaderere said. “This shows me that Ugandans this time are determined to vote for the leader they want. I have never seen this before.”

Wine called Museveni a dictator who changed the constitution to run for a sixth five-year term and cracked down on the media in addition to sending out the military to maintain order. These arrests included associates of Wine, who Museveni believed would cause an uprising, and Wine himself at least twice since November. Wine insisted he was running a nonviolent campaign. 

Ugandans’ confidence in their government slipped leading up to the elections after dozens of angry protestors were killed days after Wine was arrested in November. Only one in three expressed faith that the election would be fair and free. Uganda hasn’t had a peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence in 1962. 

The U.S. canceled its observation of the election, throwing its legitimacy into doubt, because most of its accreditation requests were denied. 

“Absent the robust participation of observers, particularly Ugandan observers who are answerable to their fellow citizens, Uganda’s elections will lack the accountability, transparency, and confidence that observer missions provide,” Natalie Brown, the U.S. ambassador to Uganda, said in a statement

In response, Uganda said African Union and East African Community observers have been deployed and that it couldn’t remember when Uganda last sent election monitors to the U.S. Twitter and Facebook also strongly protested after Museveni shut down their sites and accused them of election interference. 

“That social channel you are talking about, if it is going to operate in Uganda, it should be used equitably by everybody who has to use it,” Museveni said of Facebook in a televised address. “We cannot tolerate this arrogance of anybody coming to decide for us who is good and who is bad.”

Results are expected Saturday. 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Uganda’s Ruler Museveni Defends Violent Crackdown In Bid For 6th Term – NPR – 1/12/2021
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni arrived at his ranch in Kisozi, about a five-hour drive from the capital Kampala, by helicopter. As the 76-year-old leader walked into an interview with NPR, he was jovial, cracking jokes, eager to show off the 10,000 cows that roam this ranch.

Pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine takes on Uganda’s ‘strongman’ – NBC News – 1/13/2021
Every day that Bobi Wine sets out on the campaign trail in his bid to unseat Uganda’s authoritarian president, Yoweri Museveni, his 5-year-old daughter, Suubi Nakaayi, asks him to make a promise: that he will come home alive.

Ugandans Are Voting. Will Their President of 35 Years Win Again? – New York Times – 1/14/2021
Ugandans voted on Thursday in a hotly contested election that will decide whether President Yoweri Museveni wins a sixth term in office and continues his 35-year rule of the country or is unseated by one of 10 rivals, including a leading opposition candidate, Bobi Wine, a rapper-turned-lawmaker.

‘We Strongly Condemn Internet Shutdowns’: Twitter Condemns Shutdown — In Uganda – Conservative Review – 1/13/2021
On Tuesday, after having permanently banned President Trump from its platform last week, suppressed the New York Post’s allegations about Hunter Biden last fall, and took actions recently that resulted in many conservative accounts reportedly losing thousands of followers, the Twitter account “Twitter Public Policy,” which represents the “voice of Twitter’s Global Public Policy team,” tweeted that Twitter was concerned about Internet service providers “being ordered to block social media and messaging apps” in Uganda prior to its election.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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