updated 2/25/2006 4:08:34 AM ET 2006-02-25T09:08:34

President Yoweri Museveni overwhelmingly won re-election in Uganda’s first multiparty elections in 25 years, according to official results announced Saturday.

Museveni got 60 percent of the vote, while his closest rival, Kizza Besigye, had 36 percent, the Electoral Commission said. Three other candidates shared a little more than 3 percent.

Electoral officials said they had counted 5,792,915 votes from 80 percent of the polling stations reporting results. More than 10.45 million people registered to vote and turnout was estimated at about 65 percent.

Voters on Thursday also elected 284 members of parliament. The commission was expected to release complete results Saturday afternoon.

EU: Serious problems in voting
On Friday, EU election observers said Uganda’s election was an improvement over past votes but still had serious problems.

There were widespread reports of voters being turned away from polling stations because their names were not found on the voter register, even though they had photo identification cards issued by the Electoral Commission.

The European Union also found that Museveni and his National Resistance Movement dominated state-run radio and television and used state resources to campaign.

By contrast, Besigye’s campaign was hampered by numerous court appearances on rape and other charges the opposition leader said were trumped up to hurt him politically, said Max van den Berg, the EU chief observer.

“Therefore a level playing field was not in place for these elections,” van den Berg said.

The EU mission recommended that Uganda restore the law limiting a president to two terms that Museveni lifted.

Recent criticism
Museveni was hailed as a new kind of leader when he agreed to term limits and economic liberalization a decade ago. But he has been criticized for moves to consolidate power and quash dissent in recent years.

A coordinator for the independent Ugandan observer organization Democracy Monitoring Group said an average of 10 people per polling station were turned away, possibly disenfranchising more than 200,000 people.

Officials from Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change also produced results they said they gathered from polling stations that showed Besigye with over 49 percent of the vote, and Museveni with 47 percent.

Mary Kaloro Okurut, a spokeswoman for the ruling National Resistance Movement, dismissed the complaints.

“It was very peaceful, it went very well, there were no incidents of violence, it is only the Forum for Democratic Change that complains,” she said.

A member of parliament and 10 others have been questioned in a beating, two polling officials have been arrested for possessing marked ballot papers and a presidential adviser was detained for brandishing an assault rifle at a polling station, said police spokesman Assuman Mugenyi.

But there were no reports of violence since the election, he added.

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