ReportageOutgoing head of state Yoweri Museveni was declared the winner of the poll, but Mr Wine, credited with 34.83% of the vote, denounced massive fraud. The forces of order crisscross his stronghold.
Air saturated by the roar of helicopters, columns of armored vehicles and soldiers on the alert: in Magere, Kampala district where Bobi Wine lives, Robert Kyagulanyi of his real name, we had never seen anything like it. It is 4 p.m. this Saturday, January 16 and the electoral commission has just announced the results of the presidential election held two days earlier: the outgoing head of state Yoweri Museveni, in power for thirty-five years , was re-elected for a sixth term with 58.64% of the vote against his main opponent, Bobi Wine, ex-ragga singer and 38-year-old deputy, credited with 34.83% of the vote.
The day before, Mr. Wine denounced massive fraud – ballot box stuffing, pre-filled ballots, voters who only received ballots for legislative elections or attacks against observers of his party. Since then, soldiers have surrounded his home on the outskirts of the capital. “A house arrest”, denounced his party while the government claims that the military is ensuring its security.
In the streets, a few groups of activists dressed in yellow, the color of the National Resistance Movement, the ruling party, exchange bird names with supporters of Bobi Wine, but no large demonstrations.
Even apparent calm in Kanyanya, a neighboring district where life follows its normal course. Mechanics repair the “boda boda”, the motorcycle taxis in Kampala; street vendors sell their goods. But all are keeping an eye on the security forces deployed in numbers.
Internet cut for four days
In Kamwokya, the shanty town where Bobi Wine grew up, all the entry routes are also monitored. Hours before the announcement of the results, the atmosphere was already heavy there, morale sinking as the provisional numbers fell. The neighborhood was then divided on the attitude to adopt in the event of ” bad news “. “We will do what Bobi Wine tells us to do”said Moses, a young ghetto resident determined to “Protect your voice”. Dickson, his neighbor, said he was convinced that “The regime is manipulating the results with the Internet shutdown”.
The cut off of the Internet imposed since the eve of the election is at the heart of the recriminations and agitates the political class. The opposition openly accuses the electoral commission of having facilitated the fraud, the latter having claimed not to be affected by the cut and ensuring that it “Another data transmission system” without explaining which one. “The Election Commission cannot say that it has a particular, unknown system. It must operate in a transparent manner. The results must follow the legal process because everything must be verified “, denounced Ibrahim Ssemujju, spokesperson for the Forum for Democratic Change. Unsurprisingly, the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement, had supported the internet blocking arguing it would avoid tensions and clashes “Often fed by online propaganda”.
“They steal our voices”
Each camp interprets in its own way the calm deemed precarious reigning in the Ugandan capital after the announcement of the results. The voters of President Museveni see the beneficial effect of cutting networks while for supporters of Bobi Wine, the proclaimed winners keep a low profile. “Kampala is silent because those who claim to be victorious have actually lost. Knowing that they are few in number, they are afraid of showing themselves too much ”, considers one of them.
Moses, he sees above all the damage already done. To cut the Internet is to force him to shut down his small mobile money stand, a business that transfers money via mobile phones. “They steal our voices and then our jobs”, he fumed shortly before the announcement of the results, still hoping to reopen shortly and not regretting having gone to vote: “Bobi Wine mobilized us. We thought that the miracle of a free and fair election was perhaps possible. But it is clear that it was an election like any other, where the winner was known in advance. “