Ugandan opposition leader, Bobi Wine, on Friday claimed victory in a presidential election, rejecting early results which gave President Yoweri Museveni a wide lead as a “joke”.
“I am very confident that we defeated the dictator by far. I call upon all Ugandans to reject the blackmail. We have certainly won the election and we’ve won it by far,” he told journalists.
The 38-year-old former ragga singer turned politician has been the main rival to Uganda’s veteran leader who has been in power since 1986 and is seeking a sixth term in office.
According to AFP, the Internet remained down for a third day as vote counting continued, with provisional results from 29 percent of polling stations giving Museveni an early lead of 63 percent while Wine trailed with 28 percent.
“The people of Uganda voted massively for change of leadership from a dictatorship to a democratic government. But Mr. Museveni is trying to paint a picture that he is in the lead. What a joke!” said Wine.
He said the election was marred by “illegal, highhanded actions which Museveni and his regime of blood have undertaken to set stage for the worst rigging this country has even witnessed.”
He said he would detail the irregularities once the Internet was restored.
Two days before the presidential election, Uganda banned social media and beefed-up security in the capital.
Museveni, who took power in 1986, is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.
Campaigning ahead of the vote was marred by brutal crackdowns on opposition rallies that left scores dead.
The European Union said on Tuesday it expected Uganda to provide a level-playing field for all voters to exercise their democratic rights without fear of intimidation or violence.
“The excessive use of force by law enforcement and security agencies has seriously tarnished this electoral process,” said Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat.
He said the bloc’s offer to deploy a small team of electoral experts was not taken up.
Museveni apologised for the inconvenience caused by the ban on social media and messaging apps but said Uganda had no choice after Facebook took down some accounts which backed his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.
“If you want to take sides against the NRM, then that group should not operate in Uganda,” he said. “We cannot tolerate this arrogance of anybody coming to decide for us who is good and who is bad.”