Ugandan Court Backs Museveni Victory, Dismisses Fraud Claims

Uganda’s Supreme Court dismissed a petition alleging fraud in February’s elections, backing President Yoweri Museveni’s mandate to extend his 30-year rule over the East African nation.

The court found that “the non-compliance of free and fair elections in some areas” didn’t substantially affect the outcome of the Feb. 18 vote, Chief Justice Bart Katureebe said Thursday in the capital, Kampala, in a ruling broadcast on NBS television. The petition was filed on behalf of presidential candidate and former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.

Museveni, 71, who’s ruled Africa’s biggest coffee exporter since January 1986, won another five-year term with 61 percent of ballots, according to the Electoral Commission. Kizza Besigye, who was second with 35 percent and is under house arrest, and Mbabazi, third with 1.4 percent, are among four of Museveni’s seven challengers who rejected the results.

The commission vowed to oversee credible polling and dismissed allegations of bias. International observers such as the European Union raised questions over the vote’s credibility.

The Forum for Democratic Change, Uganda’s main opposition party, backed the petition challenging Museveni’s win after its candidate, Besigye, missed a deadline to file his own objection because of his house arrest. Besigye commented via his Twitter account shortly after Thursday’s ruling.

“We have a totally illegitimate president who is overthrowing the will of the people of Uganda by use of guns,” he said.

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