Opposition chief in house arrest as Museveni heads for victory

Saturday February 20 2016

A woman casts her vote in the Ugandan General Election on February 18, 2016 at the Nasuti polling station in Mukono District. Voters in parts of Kampala where voting was delayed were allowed to cast their ballots. PHOTO | AFP

A woman casts her vote in the Ugandan General Election on February 18, 2016 at the Nasuti polling station in Mukono District. Voters in parts of Kampala where voting was delayed were allowed to cast their ballots. PHOTO | AFP 

By DAILY MONITOR
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Tension was high in the capital Kampala on Friday as the electoral commission prepared to announce final results of the presidential elections Saturday.

Opposition leader Kizza Besigye and officials of his party were blocked from addressing a news conference, while another candidate, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, had his house in the upmarket Sololo suburbs surrounded by military vehicles.

Media houses were restricted to only two representatives at the national tallying centre, in Kampala’s Mandela Stadium as military and police vehicles patrolled the deserted streets.

Voters in parts of Kampala where voting was delayed on Thursday were allowed to cast their ballots.

Partial results released last evening by the electoral commission showed President Yoweri Museveni opening up a wide lead over his closest challenger, Dr Besigye.

After tallying 4,547,051 votes from 12,465 polling stations, or 29.76 per cent of the registered voters, electoral commission Chairman Badru Kiggundu gave President Museveni 2,715,914 votes, while Dr Besigye, a four-time presidential contender and the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party candidate took 1,414,708, representing 32.72 per cent of the tallied votes.

Independent Go Forward candidate John Patrick Amama Mbabazi had 74,127 votes (1.71 per cent).

Valid votes were 4,323,521, while 223,530 were declared invalid, representing 4.92 per cent. Some 12,844 votes were termed spoilt. 

During the declaration of the early results at the National Tally Centre, Mr Kiggundu found himself on the defensive while trying to respond to endless questions over reports that Dr Besigye had been arrested. 

“He (Besigye) should know the status of the law, he is a Ugandan, and he does not live on Mars. If the issue is about announcing parallel results, let him answer for his lack of respect for the position of the law it’s not me,” said Mr Kiggundu.

He added: “I can only do what belongs to czars and that’s outside czar’s limit. It’s not mine. There is no one that is allowed under the law to pronounce or announce or declare results by his or her own it must an institution and the law is supreme.”  

UNDER GUARD

The Daily Monitor, an independent newspaper owned by the Nation Media Group, indicated that 25 districts out of 122 districts had turned in complete results, leaving only 97 outstanding.

Police patrol cars and others carrying military police personnel were parked along the road leading to Mr Mbabazi’s home in Kololo, a high-end Kampala residential area.

Police patrolled the area to ensure no suspicious activity took place at the residence and that the public did not gather at his gate.

All cars using the road leading to Mr Mbabazi’s home were stopped and the drivers questioned.

Pedestrians too, including journalists, were not spared. “What do you mean you are journalists, why do you come here yet the news is happening at Namboole? Is there a meeting at Amama’s home?” a police officer posed to journalists near the home.

Mr Mbabazi speaking to journalists at his gate said he was not bothered by police presence.

“It’s their business. They have not told me what they have put the road block for. I am not moved,” he said, speaking from his gate where had come to speak with a group of 15 people claiming to be his polling agents.

He said he would address the nation on the developments in the country since the voting day but he did not indicate when.

He condemned the clampdown on social media on the day of voting and after, describing it the “ hallmark of a dictatorship”. “Why would they do that? Social media is a platform for information sharing,” he said.