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Ugandans vote as ballots delayed and internet shut off

Ugandans began voting on Thursday (January 14) in a presidential election pitting long-time leader Yoweri Museveni against an opposition galvanized by a popular singer despite a campaign marked by brutal crackdowns.

Polls were due to open at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) but at six polling stations in the capital visited by Reuters, voting began between 60 to 90 minutes late after ballot papers did not arrive on time. Lines of voters were growing at two other stations where polling had not begun by 09:15 a.m.

The East African country of nearly 46 million people was under an internet blackout after the communications regulator ordered telecoms operators to suspend services from Wednesday (January 13), according to the largest operator in Uganda, South African telecoms company MTN Group.

There were no reports of violence by 9:30 a.m. and normally bustling roads in Kampala were quiet.

There are 17.7 million registered voters. Polls close at 5 p.m. It was not clear if polling hours would be extended due to the early delays.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has urged supporters to watch the count at polling stations and take photographs of result sheets and upload them to an application called U Vote.

The first results are expected by Saturday (January 16) evening.

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