Uganda election: Yoweri Museveni faces Kizza Besigye
Ugandans are going to the polls, with President Yoweri Museveni hoping to extend his 25 years in office.
After some initial delays, voting is said to be proceeding smoothly in both the capital and the north, now at peace after years of rebel activity.
Mr Museveni’s former doctor, Kizza Besigye, is standing against him for the third time and has warned of protests if he is “cheated” of victory.
But Mr Museveni said Egyptian-style protests could not happen in Uganda.
Oil has recently been discovered in Uganda and one of the main issues has been how to spend the income which is set to start flowing in the coming years.
The BBC’s Joshua Mmali at a polling station in Kampala says that after polls opened 45 minutes late, the queues quickly died down.
He says many people do not have confidence in the process but they have gone to cast their ballot so they can say they have done their duty.
“I came early to vote and then I have to keep witnessing the process. We fear rigging,” voter Badru Busulwa told the AFP news agency.
After a lavishly funded campaign, Mr Museveni is seen as the favourite.
There have been complaints from some people who say they registered to vote but have been unable to find their names on the roll.
According to Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper, independent presidential candidate Samuel Walter Lubega discovered that his name missing when he went to vote at a polling station in Kampala.
Despite the omission, electoral officials allowed him to cast his vote.
Ahead of the election, Ugandan officials sought to reassure voters that there was adequate security for the polls after the mass circulation of text messages warning people to stock up on food and fuel in case of trouble.
President Yoweri Museveni is expected to win but this election is likely to be controversial.
Unlike the poll five years ago, which was marred by the harassment and intimidation of the opposition, this time around Dr Kizza Besigye and the other presidential hopefuls have been free to campaign.
Instead, a different tactic has been used – money. The advantage of incumbency has been colossal. It is no secret that President Museveni’s party has spent vast amounts of the government budget to ensure he is voted back in.
Alarm bells rang when the finance minister announced last month that the government was broke. The opposition says across the country voters have been bribed – an accusation the president has denied.
Dr Besigye and Mr Museveni were allies in the guerrilla war which brought the latter to power in 1986, but they later fell out.
Six other presidential candidates are in the running and Ugandans will be voting for MPs as well.
Electoral commission head Badru Kiggundu warned all candidates, parties and media not to announce any results that had not been declared by the electoral commission.
“Security is firmly on the ground, so [there will be] no monkeying games,” said Mr Kiggundu.
The polls are set to close at 1700 local time (1400 GMT), with results to be declared within 48 hours.
A candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to be elected president, or a run-off will be held.
This is the first time that northern Uganda is voting without the direct threat of attack from the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, who have now moved to neighbouring countries.
Last week, the authorities said about 20 militia groups had been formed in the run-up to the vote, which prompted worries of unrest.
But police chief Kale Kahiyura reiterated Mr Kiggundu’s comments and said there was no need for panic.
Dr Besigye complained that the elections were being rigged but said it would be a waste of time to go to court if there was fraud.
“One of the ways is to, indeed, get the people themselves to protest,” he told the BBC.
But Mr Museveni said he was confident of a big win and warned that anyone using “extra-constitutional means to take power” would be locked up.
“There will be no Egyptian-like revolution here because we are freedom fighters, we are not office people,” he said.
“It’s out of the question, I can guarantee you this – it will not happen.”
After losing the 2001 poll, Dr Besigye fled Uganda, saying he feared for his life.
He returned before the 2006 election, but was not able to campaign properly as he was charged with rape and supporting an armed group.
Dr Besigye said all the allegations were part of a campaign of political persecution.
He was cleared of rape in March 2006 – and last year the Constitutional Court quashed the treason charges.
Mr Museveni has defeated his challengers every five years since 1996, though his support has steadily declined.
In 1996, he received around 75% of the vote, but this fell to 59% in 2006.