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Museveni Wins Ugandan Poll, Extends 20-Year Rule


Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has extended his 20-year rule, beating his chief rival, Kizza Besigye, by a wide margin -- according to election results, about 60 percent to 36 percent. Opposition groups and international observers are saying the election process was fraught with irregularities.

This was the scene on a main boulevard south of Kampala's city center, as the results of the country's election were being announced. Hundreds of people, mainly young men who support Besigye, chanted, "Museveni, go back to your cattle." Hundreds of police in full riot gear looked on.

Elsewhere in Kampala, the mood was relatively quiet. Many businesses remained closed, fearing post-election riots.

Besigye says the election was flawed, and vowed to challenge final election results in court. It was his second attempt to unseat Mr. Museveni. His 2001 presidential bid failed.

Roger Ziwa, 25, is a taxi driver, who joined the street protest. He says that, like him, many Ugandans have not faired well under Mr. Museveni and his ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

"People [here], they are in poverty. These people in the Movement, they are looking after their own selves. But these people, they are in poverty," he said.

Still, the majority of Ugandans want to keep Mr. Museveni in power, at least for another five-year term. His supporters, and also, many of his critics, credit Mr. Museveni with putting the country on even keel, after decades of chaos and brutal repression by former dictators Idi Amin and Milton Obote.

In Uganda, a country that has never had a peaceful transition of power, most Ugandans were reluctant to vote for change.

Moses Kizige is the top organizer for Mr. Museveni's re-election campaign. In an interview at the ruling party's campaign headquarters, Kizige waved off concerns of the international community about Mr. Museveni's bid to extend his 20-year rule. He says Ugandans should have the right to vote for the best man for the country's top job, even it that means risking the goodwill of the international community.

"Well, the risks have paid off. And, the people of Uganda and the international community should not be surprised in the case that we choose to field President Museveni for yet another term," Kizige said.

Opposition parties, as well as international and local election observers, cited many incidents of voting irregularities, but it is unclear whether the irregularities are widespread enough to annul the presidential election results.

The United States said claims of fraud must be investigated.

At this point, most Ugandans are hoping that legal challenges to the election results by opposition parties will be handled in the courts, not on the streets.

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