The Ugandan Supreme Court has upheld President Yoweri Museveni’s win in the last elections, which were marred by numerous claims of irregularities. Reading the ruling on Thursday, March 31, Chief Justice Bart Katureebe dismissed the legal challenge filed by Amama Mbabazi, a presidential aspirant and former Prime Minister, saying the electoral commission lawfully declared Museveni as the winner in accordance with the Presidential Elections Act.
“We find no satisfactory evidence of the allegations of multiple voting,” the judge added.
He further dismissed Mbabazi’s claims that there were separate tallying centers that were falsifying votes, saying the opposition failed to provide satisfactory evidence to support the claims.
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Clampdown on Ugandan Opposition
Many critics have accused President Museveni – who has been in power since 1986 – of dictatorship and autocratic rule, citing the unrelenting efforts by the Ugandan police to silence the opposition.
Uganda’s main opposition leader, Dr. Kissa Besigye, has been a “guest of the state” numerous times before, during and after the recent elections. These arrests are widely seen as Museveni’s attempts to muzzle the opposition as he seeks to extend his three-decade rule.
In the run-up to the last election, Besigye, a three-time presidential aspirant and leader of the Forum for Democratic Change, was arrested several times, including on election day. Almost two months later, he remains under house arrest. Police say they fear that his activities are likely to jeopardize public safety.
Yoweri Kaguta Museveni rose to power on January 29, 1986, following a coup that toppled President Milton Obote in July 1985. During Museveni’s reign Uganda has enjoyed relative stability and economic growth compared to previous decades of civil unrest and rebel wars that had rocked the country since its independence in 1962.
However, his presidency has for a long time been overshadowed by claims of involvement in civil wars in Congo and other parts of the Great Lakes Region.
Legally, Museveni still qualifies to vie for the top seat as the Ugandan constitution doesn’t set any term limits to the presidency. Many are waiting to see if he will amend the presidential election act to suit his age as it currently puts the age limit for presidential candidacy at 75 years. Museveni will turn 72 in September.