Today, a 38-year-old pop star challenges one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders in Uganda’s hotly contested election.
In Uganda, the 38-year-old musician turned politician Bobi Wine – his real name is Robert Kyagulanyi – is seeking the presidency.
Wine hopes to oust Yoweri Museveni, 76, who has been in office since 1986. Museveni, who took power after the fall of the dictator Idi Amin, is known for bringing stability to the region and for helping manage the HIV crisis. But he also has a long history of using violence against his political opponents, and Wine is no exception.
Over the course of his campaign, Wine has been beaten and repeatedly detained; in November, his bodyguard was killed in an attack on his vehicle.
Robert Kyagulanyi represents the country’s younger generation, while Yoweri Museveni, 76, says he is standing for stability.
The campaign has been marred by serious violence, which has seen dozens of people killed, yet the government has ordered a block on all social media.
Conspiracy by the dictator & his biased Electoral Commission is in a new phase. A plot to rig is set, internet is completely shut down & media is censored. However, the pple of uganda are firm and nothing will stop them from ending this oppresive regime. #WeAreRemovingADictator
— BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) January 13, 2021
President Museveni says this was because Facebook had banned several accounts that backed his ruling party.
Ugandan police say they will deploy officers on rooftops of the capital Kampala on election day, while armoured vehicles have started patrolling the streets.
Polls open at 07:00 local time (04:00 GMT), with results not expected before Saturday.
President Museveni is seeking his sixth elected term in office after 35 years in power.
Campaigning had been banned in the capital Kampala, and several other districts. The opposition says this is because it is popular in those areas, but the government says it was to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Opposition candidates – including Bobi Wine – their supporters and campaign staff have been arrested on several occasions.
The police say the deployment to shopping malls and other high-rise buildings comes after opposition activists commanded protests from rooftops in November, when more than 50 people were killed after Bobi Wine was arrested.
The US announced on Wednesday that it was withdrawing its election observers after most of its accreditation requests were denied.
The US ambassador to Uganda Natalie Brown said in a statement that without observers, the presidential and parliamentary elections would lack “accountability, transparency and confidence”.
Meanwhile Africa’s first Nobel laureate in literature, Nigerian Soyinka who is often critical of Africa’s leaders, towards strengthening democracy says that mission is why he’s throwing his voice behind Bobi Wine in Uganda, whose opposition challenge against the 34-year rule of President Yoweri Museveni, 76, will yield one of the most closely watched elections on the continent.
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