Long-time leader Yoweri Museveni took an early lead in Uganda’s presidential election according to preliminary results on Friday, though his main rival said there had been widespread fraud and his supporters had the right to protest.
With 29.4% of votes from Thursday’s ballot counted, Museveni had won 1,852,263 votes, or 63.9%, while main opposition candidate Bobi Wine had 821,874 (28.4%), the electoral commission said just after 11 a.m. (0800 GMT).
The normally bustling capital Kampala was quiet on Friday, a holiday after Thursday’s poll, with most shops closed. Soldiers patrolled on foot in the rain in a suburb visited by Reuters.
The election campaign was marred by deadly crackdowns by security forces on opposition candidates and their supporters.
Wine, a singer-turned-lawmaker who has galvanized young Ugandans with calls for political change, told a news conference he had video proof of voting fraud. “We are winning,” he said.
“We are putting every legal, every constitutional and every non-violent option on the table,” Wine told Reuters. “I will be happy to share the videos of all the fraud and irregularities as soon as the internet is restored.”
His claims have not been independently verified by Reuters. The United States and European Union did not deploy teams of observers for this election. Both the African Union and East African Community sent teams.
Electoral Commission Chairman Simon Byabakama told a news conference that under Ugandan law, the burden of proof rested with Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi.
“The onus is upon candidate Kyagulanyi to show or to prove in what context and how the results are rigged,” he said.
Museveni, who has led the East African country with a population of nearly 46 million for 34 years, had not made any statement by noon. A reporter for NTV Uganda said Museveni would hold a news conference at 8 p.m.
On Wednesday, the government ordered an internet blackout until further notice, a day after banning all social media and messaging apps.
Wine and his supporters used Facebook to relay live coverage of his campaigns and news conferences after he said many media outlets had declined to host him.
Byabakama assured Ugandans on Thursday after polls closed that results were arriving at the national tally centre, despite the internet blackout.
“We are not using local internet to transmit our results, we are using our own system,” he said, without giving details. “Don’t worry, results will come.”