What you should know about Uganda 2021 presidential elections

2021-01-12 21:48:36
What you should know about Uganda 2021 presidential elections

Ugandan presidential candidate Bobi Wine has cut short a live interview with a Kenyan radio station, saying the military was raiding his home.

"I can see soldiers beating my security guard," he stated, before hanging up.

This happened two days before Ugandans vote in a general election after a campaign marked by violence which has killed dozens of people.

President Yoweri Museveni is now seeking his sixth elected term in office after being 35 years in power.

The 76-year-old president faces 10 challengers, most notable among whom is Bobi Wine.

Human rights groups have now accused security forces of using excessive force to break up opposition rallies during the presidential campaign. But the government says the strong measures are needed to ensure people comply with a ban on large crowds imposed to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

Here are some interesting facts you need to know about this crucial vote:

The man who is after 40 years in power:

President Museveni is one of the longest-serving presidents in African history. He and his National Resistance Movement came to power back in 1986 at the end of a five-year war, and have led Uganda ever since.

His adamant supporters admire him for bringing relative peace and prosperity to the country, and in particular for his policies on health. He helped curb the spread of HIV, and more recently his harsh lockdown - which closed schools and business, banned vehicle movement and imposed mandatory public mask use in May - is credited with successfully tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Johns Hopkins University, Uganda has recorded less than 40,000 infections and around just 300 deaths from the illness.

But even though he was once hailed in the West as one of the new generation of African leaders, his detractors accuse him of turning into another authoritarian leader.

Mr. Museveni has no designated successor within his own party, and back in 2017 signed a law eradicating a presidential age limit of 75, allowing him to run again for the presidency.

In another (related) development, Uganda’s communications regulator has mandated internet service providers that social media and messaging services should be shut down, with two days before a tense presidential election.

In a letter seen by some news agencies on Tuesday, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director Irene Sewankambo ordered telecommunications companies to “immediately suspend any access and use” of social media as well as online messaging platforms.

The rather long list of banned social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Signal and Viber. Some of these social media platforms were already offline on Tuesday.


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