2016 Ugandan general election

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Ugandan general election, 2016

← 2011 18 February 2016 (2016-02-18)
Opinion polls
  Yoweri Museveni September 2015.jpg Besigye cropped.jpg
Nominee Yoweri Museveni Kizza Besigye
Popular vote 5,971,872 3,508,687
Percentage 60.62% 35.61%

Uganda 2016 Election Results Map.png
Presidential election results map. Yellow denotes provinces won by Museveni, and Blue denotes those won by Besigye.

President before election

Yoweri Museveni

Elected President

Yoweri Museveni

Coat of arms of Uganda.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
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General elections were held in Uganda on 18 February 2016 to elect the President and Parliament. Polling day was declared a national holiday.[1][2]

Presidential candidates included incumbent Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, Kizza Besigye,[3] who had run against Museveni in 2001, 2006 and 2011, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Abed Bwanika who has also challenged Museveni in 2001, 2006 and 2011, former Makerere University Vice Chancellor Venansius Baryamureeba, retired Army General Benon Biraaro, Joseph Mabirizi and former presidential advisor Faith Kyalya. Claims of rigging and violence at polling stations were reported and voting was extended in several locations after reports of people not being allowed to cast their votes.[4] According to the Electoral Commission, Museveni was re-elected with 61% of the vote to Besigye's 35%.

Opposition candidates claimed that the elections were marred by widespread fraud, voting irregularities, the repeated arrest of opposition politicians and a climate of voter intimidation.[5] The European Union and United States have since criticised the election for lack of transparency and detentions of opposition candidates.[6][7] Overseers from the Commonwealth of Nations were critical of the misuse of state powers in favour of the incumbent.

Electoral system[edit]

The President of Uganda was elected using the two-round system,[8] with candidates needing to receive at least 50% of the vote to be elected in the first round. Chapter 142 of the Presidential Elections Act of 2000 of Uganda stipulates that presidential candidates must be a citizen of Uganda by birth, between 35 and 75 years old and be qualified to be an MP.[9] Candidates were also required to be of sound mind and have no formal connection with the Electoral Commission of Uganda. Term limits were abolished in 2005.[10]

Members of the Parliament of Uganda were elected in single-member constituencies using first-past-the-post voting. In addition, a number of seats were reserved for female candidates.[11] The Parliament elected in 2011 had 375 seats, but voted to increase the number of constituencies to 418 for the 2016 elections.[12]

The elections were supervised by the Electoral Commission of Uganda, which registered 15,277,198 voters.[13]

Presidential candidates[edit]

Eight candidates contested the presidential elections.[1] Four candidates were from a generation called the Bush War revolutionaries, and were part of the guerrilla armies that toppled the previous government in 1986.[14] Yoweri Museveni was running for his seventh term in office in 2016. He took power in 1986 after winning a guerrilla war against President Tito Okello. Museveni has been president for 30 years in a country where 78% of the population was under the age of 30 at the time of the elections.[15] Museveni's main rival was four-time rival Kizza Besigye, who ran under the Forum for Democratic Change ticket and has lost the past three elections against Museveni. Besigye was Museveni's personal physician and a military officer who broke ties with the NRM government in 2001.

Amama Mbabazi, a former Prime minister of Uganda and a founding member of the NRM, ran against the incumbent president under the Go Forward ticket. Mbabazi was sacked as prime minister in 2014 in a power struggle with Museveni. The Go Forward party was part of the Democratic Alliance, an alliance between Mbabazi, the Democratic Party, Uganda Peoples Congress and the Justice Forum (JEEMA).[16] The alliance initially also included the FDC; however, due to disagreements in electing the alliance candidate for the election, the FDC split from the alliance.[17]

Abed Bwanika, a veterinarian, also ran for a third time. The doctor ran under the People's Development Party (PDP) banner.[18] Though it was Bwanika's third time running for the presidency, he had failed to rally much support for his previous campaigns.


First presidential debate[edit]

Uganda held its first ever televised presidential debate on 15 January 2016.[19] The debate took place at the Serena Hotel in Kampala and was led by BBC Newsday presenter Alan Kasujja and KTN journalist Nancy Kacungira.[20] The presidential debate was attended by all presidential aspirants, except the incumbent president Yoweri Museveni, who was not present. Topics such as Uganda's growing national debt, corruption, education and job creation were at the centre of all candidates' manifestos.[21]

Second presidential debate[edit]

The second presidential debate was held on 13 February 2016 at the Serena hotel. Unlike the first debate, the debate was attended by President Museveni.[22] All eight candidates appeared at the debate, although Joseph Mabirizi arrived at the debate late. The debate was moderated by Dr. Shaka Ssali, who is a host of VOA's Straight Talk Africa, Dr. Joel Serunkuma Kibazo, the director of communications and external relations at the African Development Bank, and Dr. Suzie Muwanga, the head of political science and public administration at Makerere University.[23] Foreign policy, national security and the economy were at the centre of the debate topics.[24]

Opinion polls[edit]

Pollster Date Sample size Yoweri Museveni
Kizza Besigye
Amama Mbabazi
Go Fwd.
Others Undecided
Research World International 5–8 December 2015 ~2000 59.9% 21% 1.9% 1.3% 16.1%
Research World International 19 December 2015–10 January 2016 ~2000 51% 32% 12% 5%
Ipsos Uganda 1–8 February 2016 ~2000 53% 28%


Uganda has not seen a single peaceful transition of power in the country since its independence. Many observers believe that post-election demonstrations will occur and many protests will be under the risk of state sanctioned violence.

  • The government recruited hundreds of thousands of unemployed young men. They have been hired, ostensibly, to prevent crime; however, according to Human Rights Watch, they have harassed opposition politicians and supporters.[25]
  • 1 February 2016 – The arrival of ballot papers from South Africa was delayed by about 3 hours and some theorists suggested that the authorities were conducting foul play to favor a certain candidate. Conspiracy theorists believe that the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft made an unscheduled stop in Kigali where some ballots were dropped off to be later transported into Uganda. The allegation was denied by both the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority and the Electoral Commission of Uganda. The delay was said to be due to weather issues in Johannesburg.[26]
  • 13 February 2016 – The Electoral commission accepted that 20,000 names that were registered during the election process were not existent after two whistle blowers claimed there were some ghost names on the list.[27]

Arrests of opposition members[edit]

  • 15 February 2016 – As Kizza Besigye was heading towards his campaign at the Makerere University in Kampala, the Ugandan Police detained the FDC candidate. The police fired tear gas and broke the crowds as the police accused Besigye for violating campaign rules. Besigye was driven outside of Kampala and then released. The Uganda police and Uganda People's Defence Force have been accused of siding with the NRM government to intimidate political opponents.[28]
  • 18 February 2016 – Besigye was arrested a second time.[29]
  • 19 February 2016 – Ugandan police surrounded and raided Forum for Democratic Change headquarters in Kampala and arrested presidential candidate Kizza Besigye, FDC president Mugisha Muntu, chairman Wasswa Biriggwa and an activist Ingrid Turinawe.[30]
  • 21 February 2016 – Besigye, and Amama Mbabazi, another presidential candidate, were both under de facto house arrest and it was reported that General Katumba Wamala was under surveillance.[31]
  • 24 February 2016 - Moses Kasibante and Betty Nambooze, two MP-elects, were briefly arrested for revealing documents that describe election fraud taking place.

Social media blackout[edit]

  • 18 February 2016 – The government ordered the mobile service providers MTN and Airtel to block social media platforms. The government claims that platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp spread rumors and create unnecessary chaos. The opposition has argued that the ruling was put in place to prevent the public from reporting irregularities in the election process.[32]

Checkpoints in Kampala[edit]

  • 19 February 2016 – Ugandan journalists reported "Major junction are like military barracks [with] Checkpoints along major highways." [33]
  • 21 February 2016 – Security presence in Kampala was high according to the Associated Press.[34]
  • 26 February 2016 – EU and US officials were briefly barred by the police officers posted outside Besigye's house. The officials were only allowed to enter the premise on foot after a high ranking police officer let them in.[35]


The New York Times reported that at least two people had been killed and 20 injured in riots during the week of the election.[31]

On 26 November,2016, in Kasese- Ugandan soldiers under the command of Brigadier Peter Elwelu killed 8 members of Uganda royal guard as well as a 17 year old student.[36]After the happenings of November 2016, Ugandan government has arrested hundreds of people on charges of murder of 15 Ugandan police. They were charged with terrorism and treason.[37]There were reports that many of the detainees have been tortured.[38]


Museveni was declared the winner on 20 February 2016. Results from the electoral commission showed him with 60.8% of the vote against 35.4% for Besigye.[39] He was sworn in at a ceremony in Kampala on 12 May 2016.[40]


Candidate Party Votes %
Yoweri Museveni National Resistance Movement 5,971,872 60.62
Kizza Besigye Forum for Democratic Change 3,508,687 35.61
Amama Mbabazi Go Forward 136,519 1.39
Abed Bwanika People's Development Party 89,005 0.90
Venansius Baryamureeba Independent 52,798 0.54
Faith Kyalya Independent 42,833 0.43
Benon Biraaro Uganda Farmers Party 25,600 0.26
Joseph Mabirizi Independent 24,498 0.25
Invalid/blank votes 477,319
Total 10,329,131 100
Registered voters/turnout 15,277,198 67.61
Source: EC


Party Votes % Seats
Direct Women Special Total +/–
National Resistance Movement 199 84 10 293 +30
Forum for Democratic Change 29 7 0 36 +2
Democratic Party 13 2 0 15 +3
Uganda People's Congress 4 2 0 6 –4
Independents 44 17 5 66 +23
Uganda People's Defence Force 10 10 0
Invalid/blank votes
Total 289 112 25 426 +51
Registered voters/turnout 15,277,198
Source: EC



  • National Resistance Movement Party spokesman, Mike Kennedy Sebalu stated that "It appears as if our message that Uganda should maintain its path of steady progress for all, and not risk an untried and untested opposition, has resonated with the majority of Ugandan voters."[41]
  • The Forum for Democratic Change opposition party issued its own election results and one senior FDC official was quoted by Reuters as saying that their statistics showed "glaring discrepancies" with the government's figures.[41]
  • On 21 February Kizza Besigye, who was under house arrest, stated "I call upon all of you citizens to protest...The only way to get out of this is to use the popular numbers that we have to make sure that the gunmen do not do what they are doing."[34]


  • Commonwealth of Nations: Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo led a 13 member group of monitors to represent the Commonwealth countries. He stated that the group was concerned over "the increased prevalence of money in politics, the misuse of state resources – which led to significant advantages for the incumbent – and the competence, credibility and ability of the Electoral Commission to manage the process effectively and impartially...The inexcusable delays of supply of material to polling stations, particularly in Kampala and its environs, and other deficiences in the process... have seriously detracted from the fairness and credibility of the result of the elections."[7][42]
  •  European Union: EU observers reported a mixed reaction to the election and stated that "voting was conducted in a calm and peaceful environment in the vast majority of the country" but noted that the Electoral Commission lacked "transparency and independence." The EU's observers added that, "The National Resistance Movement (NRM's) domination of the political landscape distorted the fairness of the campaign, and state actors were instrumental in creating an intimidating atmosphere."[7]
  •  United States: On Friday 19 February, Secretary of State John Kerry called President Museveni and according to a statement from the U.S. State Department, "urged President Museveni to rein in the police and security forces, noting that such action calls into question Uganda’s commitment to a transparent and credible election process free from intimidation."[6]


  1. ^ a b "Uganda elections polling date set on Feb 18, 2016", New Vision, 4 November 2015.
  2. ^ "Uganda Discovered the Zika Virus. And the Solution for It". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  3. ^ "Uganda: Copy Kenya, Tanzania on Term Limits, Says Besigye". allAfrica.com. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  4. ^ (www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. "With change unlikely, Ugandans brace for elections | Africa | DW.COM | 18.01.2016". DW.COM. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  5. ^ "Uganda's Opposition Leader Kizza Besigye Arrested After Alleging Fraud In Elections". International Business Times. Retrieved 2016-02-24.
  6. ^ a b Secretary Kerry's Call with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Readout, Office of the Spokesperson, Washington, DC February 19, 2016 , http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/02/253069.htm
  7. ^ a b c "Ugandan election commission lacks 'independence': EU observers". Global Post/AFP. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  8. ^ Republic of Uganda IFES
  9. ^ "Presidential Electons [sic] Act 2000 | ULII". www.ulii.org. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  10. ^ "Uganda: Proposal to Re-Introduce Presidential Term Limits | Global Legal Monitor". www.loc.gov. 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  11. ^ Electoral system IPU
  12. ^ "Parliament approves 43 new constituencies". www.elections.co.ug. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  13. ^ The 2016 General Elections Statistics Electoral Commission
  14. ^ "Uganda: Bush War Veterans Told to Quit for Youth". AllAfrica.com. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  15. ^ "Election 2016: Young voices from Uganda". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  16. ^ "The Democratic Alliance Crumbles; Fails To Choose Candidate | Uganda Talks". www.independent.co.ug. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  17. ^ "Uganda: Democratic Alliance to Announce Presidential Candidate This Week". AllAfrica.com. Retrieved 2016-02-16.
  18. ^ "Dr Abed Bwanika Resorts To Tribal Campaign To Drum Up Political Support In Buganda". The Investigator. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  19. ^ "Uganda: All Set for Uganda's Presidential Debate, Museveni's Participation Unclear". allAfrica.com. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  20. ^ "Uganda: Museveni Avoids First Live Presidential Debate". allAfrica.com. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  21. ^ "Museveni a no-show at Uganda's first presidential debate". The Star, Kenya. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  22. ^ "Uganda's president attends first election debate – BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
  23. ^ "Who's Moderating the Second Presidential Debate? | Uganda Talks". The Independent. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
  24. ^ "As it happened: Presidential debate II". New Vision. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
  25. ^ "Elections in Uganda". The Economist. 20 February 2016. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  26. ^ "Plane carrying Uganda's ballot papers did not land in Rwanda- Official". www.monitor.co.ug. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  27. ^ "Uganda: EC Apologises for Extra Names On Voter Register". allAfrica.com. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  28. ^ "Ugandan Police Detain, Then Release Opposition Leader Besigye". VOA. Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  29. ^ "Présidentielle en Ouganda : le principal opposant, Kizza Besigye, arrêté" (in French). 18 February 2016.
  30. ^ Reporter, Tea. "Uganda Police Arrest Besigye, Party Officials in Office Raid". AllAfrica.com/The EastAfrican. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  31. ^ a b Kron, Josh. "U.S. Calls for Release of Uganda's Opposition Leader". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-02-21.
  32. ^ Vogt, Nicholas Bariyo, Heidi. "Ugandans cast votes in presidential election amid social-media blackout". MarketWatch. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  33. ^ Hopper, Tristan. "'Tweeting from Canada, voting in Uganda': How Ugandans evaded an election day internet crackdown". National Post. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  34. ^ a b MUHUMUZA, RODNEY. "Uganda: Opposition leader urges protests over his detention". AP. Retrieved 2016-02-21.
  35. ^ "Officials from EU, US pay Besigye visit - National". www.monitor.co.ug. Retrieved 2016-02-26.
  36. ^ Uganda: No Justice for 2016 Kasese Massacre by Security Forces
  37. ^ Kasese attacks: Court releases 6 juveniles on mandatory bail
  38. ^ Brig Elwelu, the commander who blew up King Mumbere palace
  39. ^ Edith Honan and Elias Biryabarema, "Uganda's Museveni wins election; opposition cries foul", Reuters, 20 February 2016.
  40. ^ Abu-Bakarr Jalloh, "Uganda's Museveni sworn in for a fifth term", Deutsche Welle, 12 May 2016.
  41. ^ a b Honan, Edith. "Uganda's Museveni set to extend 30-year rule, opposition cries foul". Reuters. Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  42. ^ Ugandans cast their votes in 2016 general elections, 18 February 2016, press release, http://thecommonwealth.org/media/news/ugandans-cast-their-votes-2016-general-elections

External links[edit]