Election Day in Uganda: Rapper hopes to unseat sitting President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

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Jan. 14 (UPI) — Ugandans went to the polls on Thursday to elect a president, with the incumbent leader — who’s ruled for nearly four decades — facing a number of challengers, including a former rapper.

Citizens are choosing from a list of nearly a dozen candidates, including President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and rapper-turned-politician Bobi Wine.

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Wine, 38, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has been beaten and tear-gassed by security forces at times during the electoral campaign.

A number of young voters in Uganda, however, have been inspired by Wine’s campaign and he is considered the top challenger in the race. For years, he has used his music to voice grievances and describe challenges faced by everyday Ugandans.

Museveni, 76, is one of the longest serving leaders in Africa. He was seen casting his ballot on Thursday at the Karo Primary School polling station in Nshwere, Kiruhura.

Museveni, who has been Uganda’s president since 1986, is in his fifth term and the country has only recently returned to allowing multi-party election campaigns.

Wine cast his ballot at a public square near the capital, Kampala, before a crowd of supporters.

“When I looked at that ballot paper and saw my face, my mind ran back to the ghettos … all of us who never used to see ourselves as consequential,” Wine said after voting Thursday.

“It’s such a big honor to represent my generation in such a monumental election.”

Forces patrolled throughout Uganda during the final hours of polling and authorities shut off Internet access days before voting began as a security measure.