Uganda, where more than three-quarters of the population is under age 30, will elect its next president Thursday. The country’s elections are democratic, but many expect the race to be rigged in favor of incumbent president Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 30 years. Despite strong anti-Museveni sentiment among youths who can’t find work as well as new biometric technology that will verify voter identity, some feel nothing can be done to stop the corruption.
Uganda’s new biometric systems will authenticate voters by using their thumbprints or national ID barcodes. It’s a milestone for Uganda that advocates hope will bring transparency and credibility to the nation’s notoriously corrupt elections. “Previously, when we didn’t have biometric voter registration, somebody would vote … and drive his vehicle and vote 30 kilometers [away]. So there were chances that the process could be rigged. But this time we think we are [stopping] that one,” Uganda Electoral Commission spokesperson Jotham Taremwa told Voice of America.
But there are doubts the new voting tech will make a difference. Some say the biometric systems’ testing and training took place too little, too late, making it impossible for polling staff to be fully prepared. Others question the timing, pointing out that the public’s previous calls for the equipment were ignored. Then, there’s the worry of political violence, which has plagued Ugandan elections in recent history. Many Ugandans, who remember the violence that erupted after the country’s 2011 elections, are stocking up on groceries.
Meanwhile, social media will be on election watch, as citizens and the electoral commission take to Twitter to report incidents and share experiences.
President Yoweri Museveni will face off against his former prime minister Amama Mbabazi and his former personal physician Kizza Besigye, as well as five other candidates, including one woman.