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Uganda's President Fends Off Opposition In Contested Election


We turn now to Uganda. There was a presidential election held in the country yesterday. President Yoweri Museveni is fending off a challenge from singer turned politician Bobi Wine. Wine is contesting the results of the election. And a large security presence was outside his home today. And we find NPR's Eyder Peralta there outside the house in the capital city, Kampala. Eyder, thanks for jumping on the line with us. Just describe what you're seeing right now.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel. So I am outside of the house of the opposition leader here, Bobi Wine. And earlier right now, there was just a ton of commotion because everybody's really jittery, especially him. He, you know, noticed that a huge large contingent of military men had breached his fence. And, you know, he took us down to where they were. And as we were talking, they sort of came over and were just looking at him and pointing a weapon. So it's really tense times here in Kampala, here in Uganda. The electoral commission has announced that President Yoweri Museveni is leading by a landslide with 65% of the vote, and that is making the opposition leader very nervous.

MARTIN: What justification does Bobi Wine have for challenging these results?

PERALTA: He says that these results are rigged. I mean, I think one thing to understand is that Bobi Wine is incredibly popular here in Uganda. He was - is, you know, one of the most popular singers in the country. And he has just shaken up politics in this country. He came into Parliament and he, you know, took on the president head on. He, you know, fought against a constitutional amendment that would allow the president to keep running after 35 years in power. He fought a social media tax. He lost both of those fights. But what he did was he galvanized young people in this country, and young people make up the majority of the electorate. And so right now, the latest tally is that he's getting about a quarter of the vote. And that to him just seems completely unrealistic. And he says that some of his polling agents were kicked out of the polling stations. He alleges that the military has delivered preticked ballots, ballots that had already been filled in. And so he is saying that, you know, these elections are rigged and that Ugandans need to protect the usurpation of their voice is how he put it.

MARTIN: Wow. So there's this collective holding of the breath there in the country as you describe. What happens next? What's the next step in this process?

PERALTA: We expect the electoral commission to announce final results tomorrow. And then that's the big question. You know, it's been a really somber affair this election because it's already been so violent. In November, when Bobi Wine was arrested, the government killed about 54 protesters who had come out to demand his release. And I think - right now there's no Internet here in this whole country. Everybody is sort of devoid of any information. And so what people are scared of is that there will be more violence, and we don't know that.

MARTIN: NPR's Eyder Peralta reporting from the capital of Uganda, Kampala, where the results of the presidential election held yesterday are still in question. Eyder, thank you.

PERALTA: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.