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The BBC's Cathy Jenkins
"President Museveni is pledging to modernise the country"
 real 56k

The BBC's Julian Marshall
"People have been queuing quietly"
 real 28k

Monday, 12 March, 2001, 09:58 GMT
Decision day for Uganda
Early voter in Kampala
Voters face a real choice
Ugandans are voting in large numbers as they decide whether to re-elect Yoweri Museveni as president for another five-year term.


Losing is hypothetical, it will not happen

President Museveni
Reports from some of the 17,000 polling stations say voters have been queuing enthusiastically and there have been relatively few problems.

For the first time President Museveni is facing a serious challenge in the shape of his former close friend and colleague, Dr Kizza Besigye.

Presidential elections
Polls open: 0700 - 1700
Polling stations: 17,147
Candidates: Six
Registered voters: 10.6 million
The campaign has been marred by violence and opposition claims of intimidation. Final results should be known by Wednesday.

Dr Besigye trails the president in opinion polls but has tapped into a well of discontent with a message that corruption is rife and economic advances have not reached the vast majority of Ugandans.

President Museveni who has held power for 15 years, won the only previous presidential election five years ago with 75% of the vote.

Issues

Both President Museveni and Dr Besigye are casting their votes in their rural home areas.

Dr Kizza Besigye
Dr Kizza Besigye: Serious challenge for president
During his final campaign speech on Sunday, Mr Museveni, 56, said he wanted to complete the stabilisation of Uganda and to bring modernisation.

"Losing is completely hypothetical. It will not happen," he earlier told a news conference in the capital, Kampala.

President Museveni is still revered by many Ugandans for leading a guerrilla campaign which brought relative peace and an end to a period of brutal dictatorships in 1986.

He has also been praised in the West for his economic reforms.

Corruption and nepotism

But his main challenger, 44-year-old Dr Besigye, who served as Mr Museveni's doctor during the five-year bush war, has struck a chord with people who feel that their own lives have not improved.

President Yoweri Museveni
President Museveni says his opponent is anti-progressive
Poverty is still widespread and Dr Besigye's supporters like the way he has highlighted corruption and nepotism in the current administration.

Mr Museveni has also been criticised for banning political parties, which he has blamed for fomenting ethnic and sectarian hatred.

Thousands of people attended Dr Besigye's last rally in Kampala a few days ago, hearing him explain why Mr Museveni had lost his way.

Mr Museveni has admitted that corruption, nepotism and embezzlement are still rife but said this was despite his efforts and not because of him.

He described his opponent as part of an old anti-progressive group who only cared about themselves and not about Uganda, and were prepared to use tribalism and violence for their own ends.

To win outright in Monday's polling a candidate will need more than 50% of the votes.

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See also:

11 Mar 01 | Africa
Museveni confident ahead of poll
23 Feb 01 | Africa
Ugandan opposition 'intimidated'
06 Mar 01 | Africa
Suspicion at Ugandan army role
10 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Uganda
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