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‘Not worth my life’: Ugandans vote in tense election

KAMPALA, Uganda - Ugandans are voting Thursday in a presidential election tainted by widespread violence that some fear could escalate as security forces try to stop supporters of leading opposition challenger Bobi Wine from monitoring polling stations. Internet access has been cut off.

The vote count will begin when polls close at 4 p.m. and results are expected within 48 hours. More than 17 million people are registered voters in this East African country of 45 million people. A candidate must win more than 50% to avoid a runoff vote.

Longtime President Yoweri Museveni, an authoritarian who has wielded power since 1986, seeks a sixth term against a strong challenge from Wine, a popular young singer-turned-opposition lawmaker. Nine other challengers are trying to unseat Museveni.

Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has seen many associates jailed or go into hiding as security forces crack down on opposition supporters they fear could mount a street uprising leading to regime change. Wine insists he is running a nonviolent campaign.

Wine, of the National Unity Platform party, has said he does not believe the election is free and fair. He has urged supporters to linger near polling stations to protect their votes. But the electoral commission, which the opposition sees as weak, has said all voters must return home after casting ballots.

“This election has already been rigged,” another opposition candidate, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, told local broadcaster NTV as polls opened, adding that “we will not accept the outcome of this election.”
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