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Violence hits Uganda after early vote results

19 February 2016 16:32



Violence erupts in Uganda as the initial results of a presidential election show the ruling party candidate Yoweri Museveni is in the lead.

Heavily-armed police on Friday surrounded the headquarters of the main opposition party and fired tear gas from a helicopter to disperse a crowd.

Police detained the main opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye in the capital Kampala, raising tensions amid mounting allegations of vote rigging in elections.

According to the initial tally, the 71-year-old contender from the ruling National Resistance Movement has garnered 63 percent of the votes so far.

The partial tally puts Besigye, who heads the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Party, in the second place, with 33 percent of the ballots.

The vote count result comes as most but not all of the polling stations throughout the East African country have been counted. However, nearly three dozen polling stations in the capital and the surrounding Wakiso district were to reopen on Friday.

Some polling stations either opened late or never opened on Thursday due to the late arrival of voting papers, with officials saying those centers that did not open on Thursday will be opened Friday.

A presidential candidate should get more than 50 percent of the votes in order for a run-off to be avoided in Uganda.

More than 15 million Ugandans were registered to vote in the presidential elections, which was held simultaneously with parliamentary polls.

Riot police advance toward a crowd of opposition supporters in the center of Ggaba, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda, February 18, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Clashes were reported on Thursday between angry voters and police in Kampala’s Ggaba neighborhood, where people waited more than seven hours for the voting to begin.

A senior foreign election observer called the delays “absolutely inexcusable.” The head of the Commonwealth Observer Group, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, said the delays “will not inspire trust in the system and the process.”

The election has been marred by accusations that the government deliberately delayed the transfer of voting materials to polling stations in a bid to frustrate pro-Besigye voters.

Museveni was already widely expected to win a fifth term, extending his power into a fourth decade.

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