Longtime President Yoweri Museveni faces strong challenge from pop star-turned-opposition leader Bobi Wine as he seeks a sixth term.
Voting is under way in Uganda, in a tense presidential election pitting longtime President Yoweri Museveni against opposition frontrunner Bobi Wine, a pop star-turned-opposition leader.
The run-up to Thursday’s vote was plagued by the worst political violence in years, with more than 50 people killed by security forces amid crackdowns on opposition rallies, as well as the repeated intimidation and arrest of opposition figures. Police say their actions are necessary to ensure compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.
Internet access has been cut off, and there are fears of unrest as security forces try to stop supporters of leading opposition challenger Bobi Wine from monitoring polling stations.
Museveni, who has wielded power since 1986, is seeking a sixth term against a stiff challenge from Bobi Wine, whose popularity among a youthful population has rattled the 76-year-old former rebel leader. Nine other challengers are also trying to unseat Museveni.
More than 18 million people have registered to take part in the polls. A candidate must win more than 50 percent to avoid a runoff vote. The vote count will begin when polls close at 4pm (13::00 GMT) and results are expected within 48 hours. Parliamentary polls are also being held.
Welcome to Al Jazeera’s coverage of the election in Uganda. This is Hamza Mohamed.
Al Jazeera’s Catherine Wambua-Soi, reporting from a polling station at Wakiso district in Kampala, said the late arrival of voting materials had caused delays.
#UgandaDecides2021 voting just about to start at freedom Square polling station. Heard on radio that several other polling centres are yet to recieve voting materials @PMugoMugo pic.twitter.com/C5rsByLd7r
— Catherine Wambua- Soi (@C_SOI) January 14, 2021
Who is Bobi Wine?
Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, grew up in Kamwokya, a slum in the centre of Kampala, with dozens of siblings and half-siblings. Before his entry into politics, Bobi Wine was a self-styled “ghetto president”.
It was in Kamwokya where he began making music, producing a number of reggae, pop and hip hop hits. But his music became increasingly political over time.
In songs such as Rise Up and Freedom, he complained about corruption and called for change. And in 2017, Bobi Wine was elected as an independent MP for Kyadondo East, winning by a landslide.
Read more about Wine Bobi here.
04:00 GMT – Polls open under heavy security
Ugandans began voting under heavy security and an internet blackout that has left many complaining.
Voting was delayed in several locations in the capital, Kampala, beginning about half an hour after the official starting time of 7am (0400 GMT), and will continue until 4pm (1200 GMT).