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Voters queue to cast their ballots in the presidential elections in Uganda Voters queue to cast their ballots in the presidential elections in Uganda 

Uganda goes to the polls in general elections

Polls open on Thursday across Uganda as the country elects its president after election campaigns marred by violence.

Vatican News staff writer

Ugandans go to the polls on Thursday to vote in the president for the next five years after a tense and bloody campaign period. The country also elects its 529 members of Parliament.

Of the ten candidates running for the number one position in the country against incumbent president Yoweri Museveni, many eyes are on popular musician Robert Kyangulanyi Ssentamu, better known as Bobi Wine, who is also an activist against corruption and youth unemployment.

Many see the elections as a face-off between an older generation of politicians who refuse to relinquish power represented by Museveni, 76, and a younger crop of youths mobilizing against them represented by Bobi Wine, 38.

With 35 years in power, Museveni is one of the longest-serving presidents in Africa. Museveni is seeking his sixth elected term as president of Uganda after coming to power in 1986. Constitutional amendments in 2005 and 2017 abolished presidential term limits and set a new age limit on the presidency which was previously set at 75.

Violent campaigns

Campaigns leading to the elections have been marred by serious violence which has left dozens killed and several hundreds more arrested.

Authorities detained several dozens of people attending Wine’s rallies allegedly for violating Covid-19 related restrictions put in place by the government. Wine’s arrest in November 2020 sparked protests which led to a wave of arrests and left dozens dead in clashes against security forces.

Communications interrupted

On Tuesday, the Ugandan government ordered service providers across the country to halt internet access ahead of the Thursday elections. This means that Ugandans will cast their ballots amidst an internet blackout.

Popular social media network Facebook also blocked a slew of accounts belonging to Ugandan government officials, accusing them of attempting to manipulate public debate ahead of the elections.

Facebook’s head of communication for sub-Saharan Africa, Kezia Anim-Addo said that the accounts, linked to the government ministry of information and communications technology had used fake and duplicate accounts to share content and artificially boost popularity.

More than 18 million Ugandans have registered to take part in the polls. A candidate must win more than 50 percent to avoid a runoff vote.

14 January 2021, 11:18