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Heavy voter turnout in Uganda elections

Ugandans flooded the polling stations to cast their votes in a landmark poll marked by a bitter battle between President Yoweri Museveni and opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2006 18:09 IST

Thousands of Ugandans flooded the polling stations on Thursday, to cast their votes in a landmark election dominated by a bitter battle between President Yoweri Museveni and opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

People queued up impatiently in huge lines at the 20,000 open-air voting centers. This is Uganda's first multi-party elections in 26 years.

Some voters complained of logistical hitches and delays, but the process progressed peacefully under the watchful eyes of security forces, who had been deployed in massive numbers to prevent violence.

By mid-day, people in the capital said they had been waiting for hours, confused over where they were supposed to vote. Meanwhile, polling was disrupted in the north due to heavy rains.

"Since 1980 we have been voting over there, now they tell us we have to come here," bemoaned Christopher Ssekabira, 58, pointing to a distant school from a church in northern Kampala where he and about 50 others had been redirected.

"We were bounced from one station to another because of a mix-up in the registers and the stations were not properly marked," Annette Buyonda, 38 said, in western Kampala.

But authorities said that with the exception of one northern constituency, where the parliamentary poll was cancelled outright because one candidate's name was missing from the ballot, the voting progressed smoothly.

First Published: Feb 23, 2006 17:27 IST