Uganda’s Museveni Leads Pre-Election Poll With Half of Vote

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Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni may win more than half the vote in next month’s elections, an opinion poll showed, a result that would allow him to extend his three-decade rule over Africa’s biggest coffee exporter.

Museveni, 71, is leading with 51 percent of support before Feb. 18 elections, Research World International Ltd. said Thursday in a report citing polling conducted between Dec. 19 and Jan. 10. Four-time presidential contender Kizza Besigye was in second place, with 32 percent, according to the poll by the company based in the capital, Kampala.

Museveni faces seven opponents, including former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who the poll showed would place third with 12 percent support. A total of 2,685 registered voters were polled in 89 of the East African nation’s 112 districts. A presidential contender needs more than 50 percent of the vote to win outright and avoid a second round.

Museveni is one of the continent’s longest serving presidents, alongside Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. He took power in 1986 after a five-year guerrilla war, first ruling for 10 years as an unelected leader, and he has since won four five-year terms, most recently in 2011. The opposition has accused the ruling party of rigging the elections.

Human Rights Watch has warned that police brutality against government opponents risks undermining the creditability of the elections.

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