Ugandan president reported leading in early election results

Bobi Wine, during a Press conference in Kampala Uganda, Tuesday, Jan.12, 2021. Opposition figures in Uganda cited widespread violence perpetrated by the security forces ahead of presidential election on upcoming Thursday, including an alleged dawn attack Tuesday on the residence of main presidential challenger Bobi Wine. (AP Photo/nicholas bamulanzeki )

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda’s electoral commission said Friday that President Yoweri Museveni led in Thursday’s election with results in from 29% of polling stations, receiving 63% of ballots while top opposition candidate Bobi Wine had 28%. Final results are expected Saturday afternoon.

Wine, a popular singer-turned-lawmaker half the president’s age, alleges that the vote in the East African country was rigged. “Whatever is being declared is a total sham,” he told reporters, while there was a heavy police presence near his home.

The electoral commission said the burden is on him to prove his allegations. Wine said he would provide evidence of pre-ticked ballots and other irregularities once internet access in Uganda is restored.

“We secured a comfortable victory,” Wine told reporters. “I am very confident that we defeated the dictator by far.” He was considering “peaceful and nonviolent protests” over the declared results and said “every legal option is on the table.” Candidates can challenge election results at the Supreme Court.

Uganda’s largely peaceful vote followed a violent campaign period in which Wine was arrested multiple times on various charges, but never convicted, and saw dozens of his party members detained. He has said he feared for his life.

The electoral commission said Museveni had 1.8 million votes so far while Wine had more than 820,000. It noted 3 million votes so far, or 16% of registered voters.

Internet access remained cut in Uganda after the government ordered it Wednesday evening, but the electoral commission asserted that it will have no effect on the process.

The vote’s generational clash has been widely watched in many African countries where booming youthful populations express frustration with longtime leaders amid the stresses of high unemployment and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Museveni has led Uganda since 1986 and still has support among some in Uganda for bringing stability. A longtime U.S. security ally, he once criticized African leaders who refused to step aside but has since overseen the removal of term limits and an age limit on the presidency.

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