UN calls for calm amid anger in Uganda over alleged intimidation of opposition candidate

There is fear of violence after a vote that many opposition figures believe was rigged

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The United Nations appealed for calm in Uganda on Friday after an opposition figure rejected as a "complete sham" early results giving President Yoweri Museveni a wide lead in this week's election.

UN spokesman Stephan Dujarric said he was “concerned by the atmosphere” in Uganda after a vote on Thursday pitting Mr Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, against 10 candidates including front-runner Bobi Wine, a former pop star and actor.

“We take note of the post-electoral developments and urge for calm, calling on all political parties to wait for the official announcement of results from the electoral commission,” Mr Dujarric said in New York.

“Any electoral disputes should be resolved through legal and peaceful means.”

KAMPALA, UGANDA - JANUARY 15: Ugandan security forces are seen outside Bobi Wine's property on January 15, 2021 in Kampala, Uganda. Wine alleged that the forces beat a member of his staff shortly before the media arrived. A uniformed solider also pointed a cocked rifle at members of the media. Pop singer turned politician Bobi Wine is challenging sitting President Yoweri Museveni who is seeking his sixth term in office after 35 years in power. (Photo by Luke Dray/Getty Images)

Mr Museveni, 76, is seeking a sixth term after almost four decades in power. Mr Wine has become as his main rival in a youthful country where most Ugandans have known only one leader.

The internet remained down for a third day as vote counting continued, with provisional results from 64 per cent of polling stations giving Mr Museveni a lead of 62 per cent over Mr Wine with 30 per cent.

Full results are expected by Saturday afternoon.

As vote tallies came in, Mr Wine told AFP news agency that soldiers had jumped the fence of his compound and beaten his security guard before taking up positions around his house.

“I don't know why they're here. But I'm imagining they are here to harm me,” said Mr Wine. “I feel threatened.”

He said he confronted the soldiers, who briefly cocked a gun at him and journalists, and refused to respond or leave.

The army's deputy spokesman Deo Akiiki said the troops were providing security and had stopped three people who had tried to “access the house”.

Earlier, at a press conference in his garden, Mr Wine described election irregularities, including ballot-box stuffing and his party’s agents being beaten and chased away in parts of the landlocked African country.

"I am very confident that we defeated the dictator by far. I call upon all Ugandans to reject the blackmail. We have certainly won the election and we've won it by far," Mr Wine told reporters.

"Whatever is being declared is a complete sham, we reject it and we dissociate ourselves with it."

Mr Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, promised to provide video evidence once the internet was restored.

Election commission chairman Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama defended the results and called on Mr Wine to “show how votes are rigged”.

Voting followed one of the most violent campaigns in years, with harassment and arrests of the opposition, attacks on the media and scores of deaths.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga said there had been "no major cases of violence reported".

A senior foreign diplomat told AFP there had been sporadic incidents of violence and many irregularities, but no sign of mass manipulation.

The US, EU, UN and global rights and democracy groups have raised concerns about the integrity and transparency of voting.

Aside from an African Union mission, no major international group monitored voting.

Mr Museveni has ruled Uganda since seizing power in 1986, when he helped end years of tyranny under Idi Amin and Milton Obote.

Once praised for his leadership, the former rebel leader has crushed opponents and tweaked the constitution to allow himself run again and again.

Mr Wine, who grew up in a slum and is nicknamed the "ghetto president", is his most significant challenger to date.

He spent much of the campaign in a bulletproof vest and combat helmet.

Opponents were arrested, blocked from rallying and dispersed with tear gas throughout the campaign. Two days of protests in November led to 54 deaths.