Kampala: Ugandan 2016 Election Day 1

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    New Taxi Stand and the busy Kampala street in front.
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    Empty streets in Kampala.
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    It is strange to see the city so empty.
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    Voting line up on the left and voting table to the right.
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    Elections 2016 voting table.

Kampala: Ugandan 2016 Election Day 1.
Feb 18, 2016

Uganda Election Day.
Kampala, Uganda.

Today is a big day for Uganda.  One of the biggest in recent history.

Holy!  I just looked up at the television showing elections taking place as I started writing this and across the screen it says, “Besigye Arrested.”  Kizza Besigye is the opposition leader to the current president Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

President Museveni, has been in office from January 1986 to now.  Actually, I just looked the dates up on Wikipedia to confirm Museveni’s office-time served and it states, “In office – 29 January 1986 – Soon Ending.”  It actually reads “Soon Ending” on Wikipedia.  I checked the last time the page was modified, and it says, “Last edited 1 hour ago by an anonymous user”.

Wow.  Wishful thinking or someone who knows something…

 The richest person in the country of Uganda is the president

So, I do not pretend to know much about the situation here in Uganda, but from local word of mouth, Museveni has been the president for 30 years.  He is 71 years old and people here have been telling me that they want change.  They say he needs to retire.  Ugandans use the word “dictator” to describe him.  I have spoken to many people about the elections in the past few days and everyone has voiced the same opinion; they all desire a different Uganda.  They are tired of the corruption.  They are tired of the oppression.  Not one person has told me they will vote for Museveni.

Museveni is the richest person in the country.  The richest person in the country of Uganda is the president…  That is certainly something to think about while you consider that Uganda is the poorest country in a group with Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya…

In February of 2011, an election took place where Museveni was re-elected, though the results were disputed by both the European Union and opposition leader Kizza Besigye.  Heresay in Uganda has it that Besigye actually won the election, however, Museveni had results rigged for a corrupt win.  On April 28th of the same year, Besigye was arrested during “Walk to Work” protests against the inflating costs of living.  Riots ensured in Kampala.

So, there is quite a history leading up to today…

On television, there have been commercials with Ugandan celebrities speaking for “I Pledge Peace 2016 – Whoever wins or loses, peace should be the ultimate victor.  Stay away violence , bribery, and multiple voting.  Voting is the last form of democracy.  Focus on issues that benefit your committee.  For a good future for our children and a better Uganda.  Go and vote, for your ballot is your voice, go and make it count.  On polling day, don’t stand around and watch.  Peace, democracy, human rights, and not violence.”

Social media has been cut off by the Uganda Communications Commission today with their reasoning of “security reason” and giving us no more information.  There has been no access to Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp for the entire day.  We are cut off from the rest of the world as the elections take place.

People are predicting riots depending on who wins the polls…

The government had issued threats to the media for releasing information and impending results before official numbers are released to the public.  So, all information coming through the television, and polling results in certain areas were announced by the newscasters with, “And a reminder to our viewers at home, that these are just ‘provisional results’ and the electoral committee and commission is in charge of the final results.  A reminder that there are just provisional results!” Provisional Results has been the most common expression used today, as all news anchors are afraid of the information they are sharing.

 Perhaps corruption is taking more time to corrupt the voting system than they had originally expected…

This afternoon the streets were empty in Kampala and the very noisy city was silent.  Businesses were closed as precautionary measures due to concerns about the worst possible outcome.  The cook of the hotel I am staying in did not show up for his shift to make breakfast.  It was difficult to find an open restaurant.

I walked past polling stations today and looked at the line-ups of people to cast their vote.  Reporters were on hand at specific stations and as the votes were being counted, they were read aloud on live television.  “Besigye.  Besigye.  Besigye.  Museveni.  Besigye.”

Officials permanent-markered the cuticle of the right thumb of each voter to show who had already cast their ballot.

1,250 outside observers were sent to the polling stations in an attempt to keep results official.

Besigye, Museveni’s former doctor, ended his campaign 2016 saying that the elections would be neither free nor fair…

Besigye was arrested today.  Analysis on television has assumed that he was set up.  Behind the scenes, a Besigye arrest makes people wonder about how to trust him on the day that they are voting.  Initially, there had been no indication as to why the leader of the opposition had been arrested.  With no social media, it seems easier to control the citizens from behind the scenes…

Later, news was released by Besigye’s “Forum Democratic Change” party senior official Shawn Mubiru.  Mubiru stated, “He (Besigye) was in his home district where he voted when he got information that there was an illegal tally center manned by the NRM (National Resistance Movement) and police.  He walked in and saw them pre-ticking ballot papers.  They arrested him and took him to an unknown place.”

Besigye had attempted to confront probable illegalities against his candidacy and the rival party in charge decided to have him arrested…

It is 20:31 and people are yelling in the streets.

It is now 23:47 and the streets have gone silent.  We were supposed to find out the results of the polling count tonight, but no information has come though.  Perhaps corruption is taking more time to corrupt the voting system than they had originally expected…

The sad reality of a dictator state…

Read Part 2 of the Ugandan Elections here

Read Part 3 of the Ugandan Elections here 

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2 Responses

  1. February 21, 2016

    […] Read Part 1 of the Ugandan Election here […]

  2. February 21, 2016

    […] Read Part 1 of the Ugandan Elections here […]

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