As the 2021 Ugandan elections have come to a close, the country has been left in a state of political disorder and distrust. Leader of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), Yoweri Museveni, has been confirmed by the Electoral Commission to have won a total vote count of 5,851,037 (58.64%), and has been re-elected to a sixth presidential term. However, Museveni’s victory has left no shortage of criticism and controversy aimed at the legitimacy of the election results.
Leader of the Ecological Party of Uganda (EPU), Charles Bbaale, originally poised to make a run for the presidency, opted to remove his name from the running in December, and vie instead for a parliamentary seat.
Bbaale stated via Twitter that his withdrawal from the race was a strategic move in favour of another candidate. Though no specific name was given, the EPU has been critical of the Museveni presidency, and has shown some support for the leader of the social-liberal National Unity Platform (NUP) and pop star turned politician, Robert Kyagulanyi, better known by his stage name, Bobi Wine.
Wine has been at the centre of the country’s recent social unrest, creating a campaign targeting a younger audience, and attempting to expose the corrupt practices of Ugandan politics.
This civil unrest was met with violence, with 54 protestors killed in a clash with police, as well as a nation-wide internet shutdown, starting on January 14th, the day of the election.
In the final election results, Wine won 3,475,298 votes (34.83%), putting him in second place, behind Museveni by more than two million votes.
As soon as the election ended, Wine stated that the election process had been wrought with fraud and political pressure, calling it “the most fraudulent election in the history of Uganda.” Wine’s team had stated that they had evidence of ballot stuffing and other malpractices, which they intended to release as soon as Uganda’s internet service was restored.
Soon after making these claims public, Wine’s compound was surrounded by Ugandan military forces, placing him and his family under house arrest, under charges of “breaking COVID-19 protocol”.
Wine and his family have not been permitted to leave the compound, nor allowed to have visitors.
US Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie E. Brown, was also blocked from visiting the compound, and both the United Nations and the Bureau of African Affairs have made their concerns public, with evidence of electoral fraud starting to build after reports of irregularities by officials.