Uganda's President Museveni has early lead in election, preliminary results show


FILE PHOTO: Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni arrives for the opening of the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni took an early lead in the presidential election race, according to preliminary results released on Friday morning by the electoral commission.

With 13.6% of votes counted, Museveni had won 1,536,205 votes, or 65.0%, while main opposition candidate Bobi Wine had 647,146 (27.4%), the commission said.

Wine, a singer-turned-lawmaker who has galvanized young Ugandans with his call for change, said in a tweet early on Friday that he was confident of victory despite "widespread fraud and violence" during the poll. He gave no further details.

Museveni, who has led the East African country with a population of nearly 46 million for 34 years, had not made any statement by 10:30 a.m. (0730 GMT).

On Wednesday, the government ordered an internet blackout until further notice, a day after banning all social media and messaging apps.

The election campaign was marred by deadly crackdowns by security forces on opposition candidates and their supporters.

Uganda's normally bustling capital Kampala was quiet on Friday, a public holiday after Thursday's poll, with shops mostly closed. Soldiers patrolled on foot in the rain in a suburb visited by Reuters.

Commission head Simon Byabakama assured the nation on live TV on Thursday evening after polls closed that results were arriving at the national tally centre despite the nationwide internet blackout.

"We are not using local internet to transmit our results, we are using our own system," he said, without giving details of that system. "Don't worry, results will come."

(Reporting by Nairobi newsroom; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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