Uganda’s Tumultuous Election Campaigns Draw Global Attention
As Uganda prepares for its election on the 14th of January 2021, President Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement party is doubling down heavily on his main rival while preparing for a sixth term in office. After 35 years in power, the 76-year old politician faces a powerful opponent – the popular singer Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentam of the National Unity Platform (NUP), known by his stage name Bobi Wine, who has captured the hearts of a new generation by protesting against corruption and youth unemployment.
Yoweri, however has shown no plans of giving up his seat easily.
The 38-year old Bobi Wine has been arrested numerous times since Nov. 3, the day he was nominated for the presidency. He likens the campaigns to a battlefield.
The UN Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), is urging authorities in Uganda to ensure elections on the 14th of January are free and peaceful, noting that the arrest of opposition candidates and their supporters are among several worrying developments ahead of the vote.
OHCHR further stated that numerous rights violations have been reported in the run-up to the elections, including cases of arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture.
At least 55 people were killed between 18 and 20 November during riots and protests over the arrest and detention of Mr. Kyagulanyi, leader of the National Unity Platform (NUP), and Patrick Oboi Amuriat, candidate for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
There is also a growing concern about the harassment of journalists and civil society.
The recent arrest and week-long detention of Nicholas Opiyo, a prominent human rights lawyer, sent “a chilling message about the respect for human rights under President Museveni as he faces a serious electoral challenge,” said Human Rights Watch Director Kenneth Roth.
When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made statements on alleged irregularities regarding the election process in the East African country, Ugandan officials responded by saying that their efforts should be reserved for the US only, where election-related controversies continue.