The Electoral Commission Chairman of Uganda declared Yoweri Museveni the winner of the 2016 presidential elections last Saturday, February 20. According to the Chairman, Museveni won with 50.7 percent of the vote.
With this win, which marks Museveni’s fifth presidential victory, he will extend his rule to 35 years by the end of this term. He has promised to fix the nation’s economy and to fulfill the commitments he made when he first took office.
The opposition candidate and four-time presidential contender, Dr. Kizza Besigye, won 34.18 percent of total votes cast. Besigye was arrested for the sixth time in about one week following the election for protesting the results.
While Museveni appears to have won a clear victory, disputes surfaced over his popular vote margin in several key districts. Additionally, 1,787 polling stations were omitted from the count because of Uganda’s 48-hour-deadline.
Parliamentary candidate and member of the opposition Joy Kabatsi reported finding ruling party officials stuffing ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballot papers. Many others support her claims, including one polling officer who disclosed that ruling party members made changes to ballots in full view of security forces.
Jotham Taremwa, a spokeswoman for the electoral commission, denied claims that the election results were rigged. “I never saw that, I never heard that; we have not received that complaint. So I thought there were enough checks and balances to ensure that nothing is done,” she told Al Jazeera.
Despite the ruling party’s adamant claims that last week’s election was free and fair, the international community has voiced concerns over the results. The EU’s Election Observation Mission released a statement Friday encouraging the Electoral Commission “to publish without delay the detailed results from each polling station” so that voters and officials can “comprehensively evaluate the election results.”
Likewise, the United Nations human rights office has expressed concern over the tense political situation in Uganda after reports of “at least two deaths and an unknown number of people injured in election-related violence.” A spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Cecile Pouilly, stated, “We remind the government of Uganda of its obligations under international human rights law not to unduly restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”