Uganda election: Yoweri Museveni faces Kizza Besigye

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Counting is under way in Uganda after the country voted in a poll in which President Yoweri Museveni is hoping to extend his 25 years in office.

Voting was mostly smooth but a journalist was shot when troops opened fire at an opposition politician.

Mr Museveni's former doctor, Kizza Besigye, is standing against him for the third time and has warned of protests if he is "cheated" of victory.

But Mr Museveni said Egyptian-style protests could not happen in Uganda.

Oil has recently been discovered in Uganda and one of the main issues has been how to spend the income which is set to start flowing in the coming years.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Queues died down after polling stations finally opened

The journalist who was shot, Julius Odeke, is now unconscious in a local hospital, his sister has told the BBC.

He had apparently refused orders to get out of a vehicle carrying opposition MP Nandala Mafabi in the eastern district of Budadiri, where a heavy military presence has been reported.

"They shot the journalist in the ribs, we have left him in casualty," Mr Mafabi told NTV Uganda.

"They have beaten up our people badly and spoilt our cars, four of them… [but] we are determined to fight on."

Correspondents say Mr Mafabi, who is in Dr Besigye's party, has been leading an anti-corruption campaign in parliament.

At a press conference after polls closed, the police said there had been some isolated incidents of violence in the east.

A Red Cross official told the BBC that about 70 people had been injured in that part of the country.

Polls closed at 1700 local time (1400 GMT), but voters still queuing to vote were allowed to do so. Results are due to be declared within 48 hours.

The European Union's chief observer said he was generally happy with what he had witnessed.

"We are glad to observe that no significant violence has taken place and the process is done in a peaceful manner," said Edward Scicluna.

Earlier, the BBC's Joshua Mmali at a polling station in Kampala said that after polls opened 45 minutes late, the queues quickly died down.

Many people said they did not have confidence in the process but had gone to cast their ballot so they could say they had done their duty, he said.

"I came early to vote and then I have to keep witnessing the process. We fear rigging," voter Badru Busulwa told the AFP news agency.

After a lavishly funded campaign, Mr Museveni is seen as the favourite.

There have been complaints from some people who said they registered to vote but were unable to find their names on the roll.

According to Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper, independent presidential candidate Samuel Walter Lubega discovered that his name missing when he went to vote at a polling station in Kampala.

Despite the omission, electoral officials allowed him to cast his vote.


Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Yoweri Museveni (L) and Kizza Besigye (R) were allies in the guerrilla war of the 1980s

The BBC's Odhiambo Joseph in the town of Gulu says there was a large turnout in the north, which voted for the first time without the direct threat of attack from the brutal Lord's Resistance Army rebels, who have now moved to neighbouring countries.

Ahead of the election, Ugandan officials sought to reassure voters that there was adequate security for the polls after the mass circulation of text messages warning people to stock up on food and fuel in case of trouble.

Dr Besigye and Mr Museveni were allies in the guerrilla war which brought the latter to power in 1986, but they later fell out.

Six other presidential candidates are in the running and Ugandans voted for MPs as well.

A candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to be elected president, or a run-off will be held.

Before the vote Dr Besigye had complained that the elections were being rigged but said it would be a waste of time to go to court if there was fraud.

"One of the ways is to, indeed, get the people themselves to protest," he told the BBC.

But Mr Museveni said he was confident of a big win and warned that anyone using "extra-constitutional means to take power" would be locked up.

"There will be no Egyptian-like revolution here because we are freedom fighters, we are not office people," he said.

After losing the 2001 poll, Dr Besigye fled Uganda, saying he feared for his life.

He returned before the 2006 election, but was not able to campaign properly as he was charged with rape and supporting an armed group.

He was subsequently cleared of both allegations.

Mr Museveni has defeated his challengers every five years since 1996, though his support has steadily declined.

In 1996, he received around 75% of the vote, but this fell to 59% in 2006.

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