Uganda’s Museveni Leads as Vote Counting Continues

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni leads the East African country’s presidential election with votes at about half of polling stations counted, Electoral Commission of Uganda Chairman Badru Kiggundu said.

Museveni won 70.62 percent support, while Kizza Besigye of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change took 23.26 percent, Kiggundu told reporters today in Kampala, the capital. Six other contenders, as well as null or spoiled ballots, accounted for the remainder. Ballots have been tallied at 12,706 of the 23,968 polling stations, he said.

A victory for Museveni, in power since 1986, would keep him in control of an economy on the cusp of an oil boom. Tullow Oil Plc will probably start pumping oil and gas from the Lake Albert Basin in 2012 and a new oil-licensing round this year or next may reveal further resources. At present, Uganda has an estimated 2.5 billion barrels of oil, with about 1 billion barrels already proven, according to Tullow.

Besigye has vowed to tally his own election results and bypass the courts in resolving electoral disputes, after the Supreme Court failed to annul the last two votes, even after finding irregularities in how they were conducted.

‘Reject’ Results

The four-party Inter-Party Coalition, led by Besigye, may decide at a meeting today to “reject” the electoral commission’s verdict on the presidential vote, Sam Njuba, the group’s electoral committee chairman, said by phone today from Kampala.

Police will arrest anyone who declares independent results, Electoral Commission Chairman Badru Kiggundu said on Feb. 17.

Museveni expects crude output to help lift Uganda to middle-income status by 2016, almost doubling annual per capita gross domestic product to $800. The International Monetary Fund forecasts that growth in Africa’s largest producer of robusta coffee will accelerate to 6.1 percent this year from 5.8 percent in 2010.

The 66-year-old president’s re-election would provide “continuity” for companies involved in developing the country’s oil industry, Nicholas Sengoba, a Kampala-based independent political analyst, said in a phone interview today.

“Now that the election has come to a close it will give Museveni and the oil companies a stable environment in which to make long-term decisions,” Sengoba said. “They can now be sure they’re dealing with the same person for the next five or 10 years.”

Accelerated Exploration

The hunt for oil and gas should accelerate around Lake Albert, where three-quarters of the area has gone unexplored, after draft oil legislation is approved by lawmakers, probably by late-May, Philippe de Pontet, a Washington D.C.-based director of Africa for Eurasia Group, said in an e-mailed note to clients on Feb. 17.

Museveni ranks as one of Africa’s longest serving leaders along with Muammar al-Qaddafi of Libya, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and until earlier this month, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak.

A lack of transparency over how oil revenue will be managed raised concern that the new-found wealth may be misused, according to analysts including Yvette Babb at Standard Bank Group Ltd. in Johannesburg. Uganda, which ranks 127th out of 178 nations on the Berlin-based Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index, has kept oil contracts secret.

Tullow said last year that it plans to partner with China National Offshore Oil Corp. and Total SA once a tax dispute with the government is resolved. Uganda has five production-sharing contracts: one each with Dominion Petroleum Ltd. and Tower Resources Plc; and three with Tullow, Bill Page, a partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP’s Ugandan unit, said by e-mail on Feb. 11.

The final results of the election are scheduled to be announced by 5 p.m. tomorrow. The outcome of a parliamentary vote also held yesterday is being unveiled individually at the district level.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Kampala at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net; Fred Ojambo in Kampala via the Johannesburg newsroom at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Philip Sanders at psanders@bloomberg.net.

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