, KAMPALA, Uganda, Feb 19 – Dozens of polling stations in Uganda were forced to open for a second day on Friday after the late delivery of ballot boxes and voting papers prevented many from casting their ballots.
President Yoweri Museveni, 71, is expected to win re-election, winning a fifth term in office and extending his 30-year rule of the east African country.
In the capital Kampala, Thursday’s elections were disrupted by the late arrival of polling materials, angry demonstrations by frustrated voters, police use of tear gas and the brief arrest of an opposition candidate.
A total of 36 polling stations in the city and the surrounding Wakiso district were due to reopen on Friday morning.
Voting in the other 28,000 polling stations passed off smoothly and counting has already begun.
Initial results are expected as early as Saturday afternoon with the leading presidential candidate requiring more than 50 percent of votes cast to avoid a run-off.
On Friday morning in Kampala suburb of Ggaba – where riot police had used tear gas to disperse crowds of frustrated voters the previous afternoon – queues formed soon after dawn.
One young voter, a student who was caught up in Thursday’s chaos and only gave his name as Ronnie, said he arrived early and was confident he would be able to finally cast his vote.
“I’m old enough so I must honour my vote,” said the 22-year old, who was casting his ballot for the first time.
After his brief arrest late on Thursday, leading opposition candidate Kizza Besigye told AFP he was attempting to bust a police-run election rigging operation when he was detained.
Besigye said he had “very reliable information, corroborated information that there was a house in a suburb of the city… where the operation of rigging the elections is centred.”
“It was very clear to us that this was a police operation,” Besigye claimed.
Kampala’s police spokesman dismissed the allegation. “The logic here does not add up by any reason,” said Patrick Onyango.
He said Besigye was “apprehended for criminal trespass and later released on police bond” and escorted to his home.
With Kampala traditionally being an opposition stronghold and with many sceptical over the impartiality of an Electoral Commission run by a chairman who has presided over two previous controversial victories for Museveni, some see sabotage rather than incompetence in the election day chaos.
“Why, here in Kampala where the Electoral Commission resides, would be the ones not to receive ballot papers which could even be carried on someone’s head and walked to the polling stations from their headquarters?” said Besigye.
Provisional results released Friday morning from fewer than a quarter of polling centres gave Museveni the lead with 62 percent.