KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Preliminary results showed President Yoweri Museveni headed for victory in Uganda's presidential election, a senior official said Tuesday.
Information Minister Basoga Nsadhu, who also serves as Museveni's campaign spokesman, said his office had received preliminary results from 50 percent of the country and that Museveni was leading with more than 60 percent of the vote. He said the government would investigate reports of vote rigging in some areas.
The independent Monitor newspaper, compiling results from polling stations around the country, reported Museveni leading with 62 percent of the vote, with main challenger Kizza Besigye garnering 35 percent. Four other candidates split the remaining 3 percent.
With 19 of 214 constituencies — 4.7 percent of registered voters — reporting final results, the Electoral Commission said Museveni had won 387,148 votes, or 76 percent, while Besigye had 95,631 votes, or 18.8 percent.
It was too early to determine turnout but it was believed to be around 70 percent.
Final results must be reported by Wednesday afternoon under Ugandan law.
Museveni, 56, is running for a second and final five-year term as president. He must win more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
The vote has been widely seen as a test of Museveni's commitment to democracy after 15 years in power. Pre-election violence has marred the campaign, and western diplomats said they would watch the voting closely for any irregularities.
In Kampala, voters turned out early and in large numbers, and there were no reports of violence or electoral problems.
Nsadhu said the government would investigate reports of vote rigging in southwestern Uganda, where residents told journalists that votes had been stolen.
One voter, Henry Tumwesigye, 42, said he saw local officials seize ballots, check the space next to Museveni's face and order everyone to go home.
"We said this was not legal, but they said whether you like or not, all the votes go to Museveni," said Tumwesigye, a teacher.
Dozens of people in Katojo, 265 miles southwest of Kampala, recounted how the chairman of the town council rigged Monday's election. Would-be voters in two nearby villages told of similar ballot box stuffing.
Ayoubu Haji Barii, a town councilor, denied there were any irregularities, saying Besigye supporters were trying to create trouble.
Early results from the sub-county of Kambuga, where the towns are located, showed Museveni with 18,845 votes against Besigye's 369.
Besigye complained about the incidents in a statement to the chairman of the electoral commission.
"There are electoral irregularities, intimidation and violence in six districts," the statement said. "We shall not recognize the results from where our agents have been chased away."
Rukungiri, Besigye's home district, has been one of the most hotly contested areas. At least one person was killed March 3 when Museveni's security unit opened fire on Besigye supporters after a rally.
At least 12 people have been killed in election violence, most of them Besigye supporters.
Besigye, running as an anti-corruption reformer, is a 44-year-old retired army colonel who served as Museveni's physician when the two fought a five-year bush war against President Milton Obote that brought Museveni and his National Resistance Movement to power in January 1986.
Museveni ran successfully for president 10 years later under a new constitution approved in 1995. He was once touted by the administration of then-President Clinton as a new breed of African leader — embracing democracy and free-market capitalism. But the campaign violence and reports of electoral fraud have hurt his reputation abroad.
"Museveni has done some great things," Tumwesigye said. "But the way he is moving these days, I think he is going in the wrong direction."