On Thursday Ugandans will vote in a basic election after a marketing campaign marked by violence which has killed dozens of individuals.
President Yoweri Museveni is searching for his sixth elected time period in workplace after 35 years in energy. The 76-year-old faces 10 challengers, most notably the pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine.
Human rights teams have accused safety forces of utilizing extreme power to interrupt up opposition rallies throughout the marketing campaign. However the authorities says the sturdy measures are obligatory to make sure folks adjust to a ban on giant crowds imposed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Listed below are the 5 issues it’s worthwhile to know in regards to the essential vote:
1. The person who needs 40 years in energy
President Museveni is likely one of the longest-serving presidents in Africa. He and his Nationwide Resistance Motion got here to energy in 1986 on the finish of a five-year struggle, and have led Uganda ever since.
His supporters reward him for bringing relative peace and prosperity to the nation, and particularly for his insurance policies on well being. He helped restrict the unfold of HIV, and extra just lately his harsh lockdown – which closed colleges and enterprise, banned car motion and imposed necessary public masks use in Might – is credited with tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
In line with Johns Hopkins College, Uganda has recorded fewer than 40,000 infections and round simply 300 deaths from the sickness.
However whereas he was as soon as hailed within the West as one of many new technology of African leaders, his critics accuse him of turning into one other authoritarian chief.
Mr Museveni has no designated successor inside his social gathering, and in 2017 signed a regulation eradicating a presidential age restrict of 75, permitting him to run once more for the presidency.
He has seen off plenty of challengers to his rule over time, notably long-time opposition chief Kizza Besigye, who was arrested quite a few occasions and determined to not run once more for the presidency in 2021.
Whereas Mr Museveni maintains a big assist base, particularly in rural areas, he’s dealing with rising opposition over rising inequality and his inflexible management over the nation.
2. The pop star challenger
One in every of 10 candidates difficult him for the presidency this 12 months is musician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, recognized by the stage title Bobi Wine.
Affectionately known as the “ghetto president”, the 38-year-old turned an East African musical famous person within the early 2000s earlier than switching to politics and profitable a seat in parliament in 2017.
Bobi Wine is seen as the most important problem to Mr Museveni’s rule and has mobilised many younger individuals who haven’t beforehand been concerned in politics. He has sharply criticised the president up to now and accused him of “fearing the folks”.
The president has not taken this problem frivolously. He has accused Bobi Wine of being a international agent of these “who do not like the steadiness and independence of Uganda” and mentioned that opposition figures are deceptive younger folks to get entangled in violence on the marketing campaign path.
Bobi Wine has been arrested a number of occasions since he turned concerned in politics. He has spoken of a “revolution” in opposition to Mr Museveni. He has posted on Twitter utilizing the hashtag “WeAreRemovingADictator”.
3. The technology hole
A part of Bobi Wine’s recognition comes all the way down to his age. At 38, he’s simply half as previous as President Museveni, in one of many youngest nations on earth.
In line with the CIA World Factbook Uganda has the second-lowest median age worldwide, of simply 15.7 – solely Niger is youthful.
The “ghetto president” grew up in a slum within the capital, Kampala. His background and his efforts to advertise social justice in his nation by means of his music and as a politician have endeared him to this youthful, extra city technology.
However Bobi Wine has additionally stunned authorities by drawing massive crowds of supporters in rural areas – regarded as a bastion of assist for President Museveni.
4. Covid crackdown
Tensions are excessive, and the marketing campaign has been marred by severe violence, which has left dozens killed and tons of extra arrested.
Officers have cited measures introduced in to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic for his or her efforts to interrupt up political gatherings. However Human Rights Watch has alleged that safety forces are utilizing these laws “as a pretext to violate rights and clamp down on the opposition and the media”.
Bobi Wine himself was arrested final November for allegedly breaching Covid measures. His detention sparked protest which led to a wave of arrests and left dozens lifeless, largely allegedly shot by the safety forces.
Afterwards, Safety Minister Elly Tumwine pointed to the truth that 11 safety personnel had been injured and mentioned “police have a proper to shoot you and kill you in the event you attain a sure stage of violence”.
“Can I repeat? Police have a proper to shoot you and also you die for nothing…. do it at your personal threat.”
Bobi Wine has since taken to sporting a bullet-proof vest and helmet on the marketing campaign path.
On the finish of final 12 months he halted his marketing campaign after plenty of his workforce had been injured as safety forces dispersed one in all his political rallies. He later advised broadcaster CNN he had survived a number of assassination makes an attempt.
5. Uganda’s function within the area – and past
A rustic of greater than 42 million folks, Uganda is surrounded by Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It has one of many highest refugee populations worldwide, internet hosting some 1.Four million folks from neighbouring international locations.
Some are watching the political unrest within the nation with concern, and fear about what may occur after the vote. There has by no means been a peaceable switch of energy in Uganda and it’s not clear what would occur if Mr Museveni had been to lose, and what the navy would do.
The president introduced a shake-up of the armed forces in November, bringing within the former head of Uganda’s operations in Somalia, Maj Gen Paul Lokech, as deputy inspector basic of police to coordinate safety forces across the capital throughout the election interval.
The European Union has chosen to not ship observers to the election this 12 months – reportedly as a result of Ugandan officers have ignored recommendation from previous observers to make polling extra truthful – which means there will probably be much less worldwide scrutiny.