Today is decision making day for the 18million voters registered in Uganda who are expected to cast their votes as decided on who should be their president for the next 5 years.
The front runners of the race are the incumbent President, Yoweri Museveni who has been in power for the past 37 years, he is also the leader of the National Resistance Movement party.
Another front runner is Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi wine prominent award-winning artist and outgoing parliamentarian.
Bobi wine is the leader of the opposition party, National Unity Party, which is the main opposition of the longtime ruling party. The two main candidates have been conducting campaigning rallies across Kampala and in other provinces in the East African city.
However, the campaigns have been marked by violence and arrests of the opposition politicians, lawyers and journalists. The ‘Africaport’ , has described the Ugandian elections as one of the hottest contested elections in the Africa.
The veteran longtime 76 year old leader, came to power in 1986, making this his 37th year in power. He is seeking a 6th term in office and his critics have described him as a dictator.
However, majority of rural citizens in Uganda are said to be the main voters for the longtime leader. Some have praised him’, for the stability security, peace and for attracting international investments. Despite this Museveni is accused by international leaders and human rights activists of human rights abuses.
Last month the media board in Uganda revoked the media press cards for international Journalists and they were informed to re- apply for new press cards, which became difficult for them to cover the political campaign rallies, citizen journalists were not accredited to cover the elections.
One citizen journalist expressed his thoughts to My Afrika Magazine citing this as an unfair incident, especially to private media.
“We are not given the same treatment as other public Journalists, yet we are all journalists. Citizen Journalists tell stories that citizens want to hear,” he said.
Some Journalists have been tear gassed when covering opposition leader’s rallies.
A UN representative in an interview with the ‘Africaport’, stated out their concern over the abuse meted out political activists and pre-election violence.
“We are gravely concerned by election related violence, the excessive use of force by security personnel as well as the increasing crackdown on peaceful protests, political and civil society leaders and human rights defenders,” UN expert said.
Two days before the casting of the votes, Ugandian Government’s social media platforms were blocked by Facebook.
The government of Uganda shutdown the Internet in Kampala and in other areas, according to a political analyst, Fredrick Mutebi,who featured at the SABC NEWS programme,’African Perspective’. “The Government claims they shut down the internet to protect the voting process.”
He however said they are shutting down the only means for the opposition parties to communicate with their supporters as the opposition parties such as the NUP led by Bobi Wine, use social media as their platform to lure young voters.
Museveni came to power in 1986, after defeating Milton Obote during a ‘bush war’. He still describes himself as a ‘freedom fighter’.
The longtime serving leader was not supposed to contest during this year’s election. However, the members of Ugandan parliament changed the Constitution Amendments twice to allow Museveni to run again.
In 2005-Uganda’s parliament removed the two term limits and in 2018 they amended the Constitution to allow candidates over 75 years to run for the presidential office. In his campaign Museveni has been commissioning roads and other infrastructures has also castigated Bobi Wine for being a puppet of the Western Countries.
In an interview with The Guardian News, he stated that his main contender is trying to promote Western Culture in Uganda.
“An agent of foreign interests, promoting homosexuality, Western elements” said Museveni . The interview was conducted at his Ranch at Kisozi West.
Museveni’s ideology has been seen as similar to the late former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who ruled the Southern Nation for 37 years.
While Bobi Wine has been seen by his peers as the Ghetto President, his campaign rallies have attracted many young people, with social media buzzing with the hashtag #Peoplepower #WereMovingTheDictator.
Wine has been protesting before the elections against youth unemployment and corruption, hence his message to the public has been to vote against corruption and unemployment. However, he faced a number of challenges during his campaign, such as being blocked from rallies and being arrested. For example in Kanoni near Bobi Wine’s home he was blocked from delivering a Christmas message to his fans.
The elections will only be observed by African Union observers and ECOWAS observers as most international observers from EU and America pulled out. Media is banned from filming near any polling stations.
If the incumbent President wins the elections, Museveni will join the list of other longtime leaders in Africa such as the Presidents from Equatorial Guinea, Eriteria, Cameroon.
On the other hand if the Ugandian Election Commission declares ,Robert Kyagulanyi as the winner he will be the youngest African Head of state and the second artist to hold that position joining the former DJ ,President of Madagascar and Ethiopia Prime Minister who are currently the youngest African leaders.
Bobiwine Facebook page, Yoweri Museveni Facebook page, SABC News ‘Africa Perspectives’, Africaport.