Veteran Ugandan Leader Museveni Leads in Presidential Vote

(Bloomberg) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving rulers, took a commanding lead in the nation’s presidential election, according to preliminary results.

With ballots tallied from almost 65% of polling stations, Museveni garnered 62% support , and his main rival -- pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine -- 31%, the Electoral Commission of Uganda said on state television Friday. The nation has 18.1 million registered voters out of a population of about 45 million.

Final results are expected to be announced over the weekend.

Wine, who complained of repeated intimidation by the authorities during the campaign, said in a Twitter posting on Friday that members of the military had scaled his fence and seized control of his home.

‘Serious Trouble’

“None of these military intruders is talking to us,” he said. “We are in serious trouble. We are under siege.”

Wine’s National Unity Platform party disputed the preliminary results. The party is keeping its own tally based on announcements made at polling stations around the country, spokesman Joel Ssenyonyi said.

“Let him show the country in what manner and what form the results are rigged,” the electoral body’s chairman, Simon Byabakama, told reporters in the capital, Kampala.

Museveni, 76, in power since 1986, is expected to win the election, partly because of the support he still enjoys in rural areas and his influence within the state.

Internet Shutdown

At least 54 people died after protests erupted in November following the arrest of Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi. Police and soldiers have used armored personnel carriers to patrol the capital in operations they said were aimed at thwarting election-related violence.

Ugandans also had to contend with an internet shutdown after authorities directed telecommunications operators to switch it off. That and the failure of the electoral body to accredit observers from from diplomatic mission could put the integrity of the Jan. 14 vote into question.

Uganda is Africa’s biggest-coffee exporter and plans to start producing oil by 2024.

(Updates with latest tally in second paragraph.)