Kampala (dpa) – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been elected to another five-year term in office, the Electoral Commission said Saturday, extending his 30-year grip on power.
Museveni received 60 per cent of the 9.7 million votes cast in Thursday’s elections.
“Candidate Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who has obtained the highest number of votes in the elections being more than 50 per cent, has won the elections and I therefore declare him winner,” commission chairman Badru Kiggundu told reporters.
His closest rival, Kizza Besigye, got 35 per cent of ballots, Kiggundu said. Voter turnout was 63 per cent.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni casts his vote during presidential elections. The elections pitted the country’s ruler of 29 years against Kizza Besigye, his former physician and an ex-army colonel, who has already lost three elections to Museveni.
Violence erupted in the capital Kampala on Friday, a day after the presidential and parliamentary elections, when police stormed Besigye’s party offices, arrested him with several others and charged him with illegally running a parallel vote counting centre.
The arrest sparked widespread rioting in the capital. Gunfire was heard, tear gas was used and 18 people were reported to have been injured, 10 of them seriously.
There was a heavy police presence in Kampala and other outlying areas earlier in the day, before the official announcement of the final results.
Museveni, 71, came to power in 1986 following a guerrilla campaign. He has won four elections since 1996.
He launched a guerrilla war in 1981 against former president Milton Obote’s government, and five years later took power after unseating the military junta of general Tito Okello.
He suspended multi-party rule saying it was divisive but returned the country to pluralism shortly before the 1996 elections, which he won. Since then he has been winning successive elections which the opposition claims were rigged.
Critics accuse the government of clamping down on the media, temporarily arresting the main opposition candidates and backing a militia-type group to allow Museveni to extend his three-decade-long rule.
“Once again, these elections fell short of meeting some key democratic benchmarks,” election observers representing the Commonwealth countries said Saturday.
They said that the significant advantage the state enjoyed over the opposition led to questions about the “competence, credibility and ability of the Electoral Commission to manage the process effectively and impartially”.
The European Union observer mission said that the ruling party’s domination “of the political landscape distorted the fairness of the campaigns and state actors created an intimidation atmosphere for both voters and candidates which continued in the days after the elections.”
The EU also described as unacceptable the arrest of Besigye and two other party officials, saying “this excessive use of police force was not acceptable.”
But government spokesman Ofwono Opondo on Saturday dismissed the EU claims.
“Our laws are in full force and the candidates should respect them. That Museveni has won is not a surprise because the opposition is weak. They are bad losers,” he said.