The atmosphere in Uganda’s capital Kampala has been increasingly charged ahead of Thursday’s presidential election, with military personnel patrolling the streets and residents fearing social unrest.
Long-time Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni sees himself challenged by young singer and lawmaker Bobi Wine, who has captured the imagination of many across Africa in a generational clash.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, said soldiers raided his home Tuesday morning and arrested his security guards. He also urged his supporters not to be intimidated by the security forces.
With the military in charge of all security operations in the Kampala metropolitan area, opposition figures in Uganda are criticizing widespread violence by security forces ahead of the election.
Some residents in Kampala said they fear tension in the country amid poor social conditions.
“I hope for the elections to end in peace”, said one resident, adding that “this is our country and we are not going anywhere”.
In November, at least 54 people were killed in Kampala and other parts of the country as security forces put down riots provoked by the arrest of Wine for allegedly violating campaign regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Those deaths form a critical part of Wine’s petition to the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged acts of torture, mutilation and murder of civilian protesters by security forces.
Meanwhile Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986, has accused Wine of being “an agent of foreign interests.”
The 76-year-old leader has defied calls for his retirement, saying he has been elected many times by Ugandans who love him.
Ugandan polls are often marred by allegations of rigging. As election day approaches, leading opposition candidates said they had launched a concerted effort to protect against vote-rigging at polling stations.
They are urging their supporters to stay within 100 meters of polling stations rather than return home as the electoral commission is demanding. That means potential confrontations with security forces.