Tension builds ahead of Uganda’s presidential elections

Tensions continue to rise in Uganda with presidential elections set to hold tomorrow, the 18th of February. However, today, which is the eve of elections, has already been termed “the devil’s night” by Ugandan officials as they believe it is the perfect time for voters to be bribed.

Already, it appears that President Yoweri Museveni is tying up loose ends. On Monday, President Museveni’s former personal physician and major opposition candidate, Kizza Besigye, was arrested by the Ugandan Police on his way to a rally with some of his supporters. However, this is not the first time he has been arrested since he declared his intention to run for the position of president. The police usually give different reasons for his arrest, this time, he was arrested for “disrupting traffic”. While Besigye was on his way to a campaign rally ground with many of his supporters, his convoy was stopped and the crowd was dispersed by the police with tear gas and rubber bullets. Reports say one person died while nineteen were wounded. Besigye was taken into custody after that. He was then released hours later to enable him attend “his other rallies”.

Besigye, the next day, expressed confidence that he would get an outright win, even though the elections may not be “free and fair”, he said, echoing the sentiments of some Ugandans. There have been reports that while the people are hopeful for a change in leadership this time, because of the status of Museveni’s two major contenders, Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi, many would still be reluctant to vote as Museveni always seems to win. However, Besigye has expressed optimism that there will be change in Uganda this time. Besigye, who has contested and lost three times against Museveni, says he has “caused panic in the no-change camp”, in reference to Museveni’s party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

However, Museveni has been anticipated to win a fifth term in office and has warned people from voting for the opposition, calling them “liars”. Museveni, while attending his first presidential debate last week, spent a lot of time defending himself when accusations were thrown at him from the opposition. He has threatened to “smash” those who pose a threat to national security and, already, the police has been stationed in different areas in the capital, Kampala. Kampala is seen as an opposition stronghold and was the location of Besigye’s arrest on Monday. Also, Museveni seems to be taking a leaf from former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s book, by campaigning with free bottled water.

Museveni Bottled-water                     Credit: twitter.com/samirasawlani

Goodluck rice Credit: twitter.com/samirasawlani

The president plans to stuff ballots before elections tomorrow, according to opposition candidate, Mbabazi, but he has promised to deal with the problem. If Museveni wins at the polls tomorrow, he joins the ranks of African leaders like Equatorial Guinea’s President Theodore Obiang Nguema, Cameroon’s Paul Biya, Angola’s Jose Eduardo Dos Santos, Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir and Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe. They have all spent more than two decades in power and are still in power. However, Ugandan youths say it’s time Museveni moved on, this time it may just happen.

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