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Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni declared winner of the 2016 presidential election

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Africa Correspondent  Feb 20, 2016

Ugandans have voted for no change, as President Museveni has been re-elected for another five-year term.

Ugandans in the millions voted for President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in the February 18 election, opting for no change at the helm of the country.

Electoral Commission Chairman Dr. Eng. Badru Kiggundu met the constitutional deadline which demands that results must be announced at 1600 hours, 2 days after the formal end of the polls, and good to his word, and living up to his mandate, he confirmed a few moments ago that President Museveni had gathered 60.75 percent of the overall vote or 5,617,503, compared to his closest challenger, 4 times an election loser, Dr. Kizza Besigye, who only managed to get 35.37 percent or just over 3,270,000 votes.

This announcement ends one of the hottest election campaigns in Uganda’s history with the main contestants traveling some 20,000 kilometers across the country to reach every corner of the nation from the borders of South Sudan and Congo to the borders of Rwanda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

Election observer missions, which voiced concerns over logistical aspects of the voting exercise in parts of Kampala, the neighboring Wakiso District, and some few other constituencies – in some cases voting materials only arrived 6 hours after the official opening of the polls at 0700 hours – however, also gave the process a cautious thumbs up in their provisional statements, which were read out at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel, where most observer missions had taken up residence.

While there are some major parliamentary casualties among government ministers and the old guard, this is seen as a bonus for the President, giving him a freer hand to appoint his new cabinet and bring in young blood with fresh ideas, as he enters what will under the present constitution be his last term of office due to age reasons.

The locally-limited chaos caused by irate voters, some clearly intoxicated and/or incited to resort to violence, which was seen on election day and the day afterwards, has since subsided and 2 journeys across the city in the morning and at lunch time today, while showing less than usual Saturday activity, also attested to peace and quiet with little if any security presence seen on the streets or the capital.

Tourism sources, on condition of anonymity, have expressed relief over the outcome of the elections and that the exercise was conducted in a relatively free and peaceful environment with one regular commentator over the cause of two phone conversations saying: "Our eyes now are firmly on ITB in Berlin next month. We have work to do to promote Uganda and the end of the campaign and announcement of results concludes a period of some anxiety. Influx of tourists reduced considerably immediately before the elections, mostly because of scare mongering by international media and in part by local media too. Those are unpatriotic elements who do not seem to mind when tourism suffers or even collapses and yet we provide many jobs and bring in most foreign exchange. Messing around with our industry is paramount to sabotaging the national economy but what do those power hungry politicians care."

Another took aim at the government’s decision to take down social media sites when he said: "It really upset some of our tourists that Twitter and Facebook were switched off. We tried to explain but it left a bit of a sour taste. Me I understand that it had to be done, because some elements would have used social media to cause unrest. But then, over 1.5 million bypassed these restrictions by using VPN software which is available for free. I advised my clients to install it on their tablets and smart phones. They bought a local SIM card and bought data bundle time and they were back in business. However it was quickly apparent that the government’s concerns were justified because those inciters who also installed VPN then posted pictures with dead bodies, a picture with a burning body, all taken from other countries and different occasions to lie to Ugandans. This is not what the world should be fed, we need positive reporting and our tourists posting pictures from the parks helped because they also told their loved ones at home that everything was fine."

A new government is not expected to take office until after parliament has opened and the nominees of the President for cabinet positions have been formally vetted and cleared, leaving the present ministers in office in an acting capacity until their successors have been sworn in.

From this correspondent, admittedly a long-time supporter of President Museveni – whom he first met in Nairobi during the Uganda peace talks initiated by then President Daniel arap Moi in the mid-1980s – it is congratulations on the occasion of being pronounced winner of the presidential election in Uganda on February 18. Personal expectation and hope is, that attention and funding to the tourism industry is increased and environmental concerns taken more seriously by the next administration to let the tourism sector flourish and develop to the next level.

Uganda's President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni declared winner of the 2016 presidential election

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