Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni celebrated extending his three decades in power with a walk with his beloved cows, after an election rejected as fraudulent by the opposition and criticised by the international community.
Uganda’s veteran leader was on Saturday proclaimed the winner of the country’s presidential election with 60 percent of the vote, far ahead of the 35 percent garnered by detained opposition chief Kizza Besigye, whose house was surrounded by police in riot gear as the results were announced.
Besigye slammed the results as a fraud and appealed to the international community not to recognise them.
In contrast with the images of Besigye’s besieged home, pictures released by the government showed a relaxed Museveni walking in the midst of his long-horn cattle and chatting with their herders, wielding a stick and wearing his trademark wide-brimmed hat.
Another photograph showed the 71-year-old leader surrounded by his family.
After Thursday’s at times chaotic election, which returned him to a fifth term in office, Museveni said he planned to “go for my cross-country walk to exercise and then go to my cows.”
Born in western Uganda to a cattle-rearing family, he has always said he plans to be a herder on his retirement.
While Museveni succeeded in extend his rule of the east African country, over a dozen influential ministers lost their parliamentary seats. Among them were defence minister Crispus Kiyonga, who is spearheading regional efforts to end the political crisis in Burundi, and attorney general Fred Ruhindi.
Urging the world to ignore the results, Besigye said: “Should you ratify the results of these sham elections, at least have the courage to admit that you do not care about democracy or human rights in Africa.”
Ex-prime minister Amama Mbabazi, a former ruling party stalwart who trailed in distant third with just over one percent of the vote, also said the election was “fundamentally flawed” and that the official results were “not a reflection of the will of the Ugandan people.”
International observers raised the red flag over the proceedings, saying that Uganda’s electoral commission lacked transparency and accusing the police of heavy-handed treatment of the opposition.
Despite the controversy, several African leaders extended their congratulations.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta wished Museveni “every success as he serves his nation for another term”, while Burundi’s embattled President Pierre Nkurunziza offered his “warmest congratulations” for the “well-deserved re-election.”