Mon, Feb 27, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Museveni re-elected in Uganda

VICTOR On Saturday President Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of last week's poll in Uganda but his main opponent has questioned the results


Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday won re-election in Uganda's landmark polls last week but his main rival rejected the results as fraudulent while opposition supporters were involved in clashes with police.

Museveni was declared the overwhelming victor in Thursday's landmark polls with nearly 60 percent of the vote, but second-place finisher Kizza Besigye said the results were fixed by massive fraud and refused to accept them.

The developments set the stage for a new showdown between the arch-rivals whose battle for the presidency dominated the campaign for Uganda's first multi-party polls since 1980 and fears of post-election violence ran high.

As Besigye rejected the official results, police fired live rounds and teargas to disperse angry opposition supporters who had gathered outside the headquarters of his Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in southwestern Kampala.

There were no apparent injuries but as cheering pro-Museveni crowds paraded through the streets, concerns grew of potential clashes between the two sides when the full impact of the election results sunk in.

The Electoral Commission said Museveni had taken 59.3 percent of the vote compared to Besigye's 37 percent and formally declared him to be "the elected president of the Republic of Uganda," extending his 20-year hold on power.

But Besigye called the results "outrageous," claiming the president had not reached the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a second-round run-off with the next highest finisher and may have even lost outright.

"The FDC has taken a decision to reject the results announced by the Electoral Commission," he told reporters, describing the tabulation as "illegal" and the culmination of an "illegitimate process."

Museveni's ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) said the election was "free, fair and democratic" and called the results "credible."

"We congratulate our opponents and call on them to accept our victory," NRM spokesman Ofwono Opondo said as large groups of ebullient Museveni supporters celebrated in the streets of Kampala.

Many of them chanted "No change, no change," honked car and motorbike horns, waved yellow party banners and branches and derided Besigye supporters for their complaints.

Outside the FDC headquarters, a pro-Besgiye crowd grew increasingly angry as large numbers of cheering Museveni supporters passed by the office.

Some threw stones at cars driven by pro-Museveni drivers and then later at police who responded by firing live rounds and dozens of canisters of teargas.

Some Besigye supporters, however, appeared resigned to defeat and fearful of post-vote retaliation. One, middle-aged schoolteacher Rose Obbo, said she worried that the election result might spark clashes.

"I hope this will not bring about instability," she said.

Besigye appealed for his supporters to remain calm while the FDC collects evidence of alleged fraud, a process he said would be completed in the coming days after which the party would decide how to proceed.

He also blasted foreign observers for generally upbeat early assessments of the polls, which had noted some serious problems, notably bias against the FDC in the campaign, but praised the peaceful conduct of election day.

Police, meanwhile, accused the FDC of plotting violent post-election protests and blamed the party for an explosion late on Friday in Kampala that wounded three people, a charge the FDC immediately denied.

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