President Museveni last night admitted that there was "cheating" in the January 14 presidential elections, but said the mastermind and beneficiary was his main challenger Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, of the National Unity Platform (NUP) and its supporters.
"Everybody in Uganda knows who cheated; it was Kyagaulanyi group. It was ballot-stuffing, massive rigging in other parts of the country led by the [NUP] youth organisations," Mr Museveni said, citing irregularities that according to him were observed in Kampala, Wakiso, Kyotera and other districts in central Uganda,Bobi Wine defeated the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) flag bearer Yoweri Museveni across Buganda and Busoga by a wide margin, according to Electoral Commission (EC) results, which showed Mr Museveni nationally won with 58 per cent.
Bobi Wine on the other hand got 35 per cent, the poll body announced, a voting outcome the NUP leader rejected. He went to court, but withdrew his petition to challenge Museveni's re-election mid-way, claiming the Supreme Court judges were biased.
Last week, he proclaimed himself winner of the election with 54 per cent and asked his supporters to mass up at EC offices to reclaim the stolen victory, a call that has gone nowhere.
In comments about the elections, his first since Bobi Wine opted out of court contest, Mr Museveni said Bobi and his NUP supporters exploited the "weakness" of some "parasitic" NRM vote protectors, and bribed police.
Without naming names, the President, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, warned police officers, whom he said declined to act on reports of intimidation of NRM supporters, that they will be dismissed.
The raft of allegations that President Museveni catalogued against NUP are similar to those Bobi Wine levelled against NRM and its former candidate, including his withdrawn petition in which he had listed ballot-stuffing, intimidation and abduction of his supporters.
He went on to warn unnamed individuals plotting to sabotage his swearing-in expected in May.
In comments about several abducted NUP supporters, Mr Museveni said some of them had been freed following their revelation of Opposition post-election game plan and asked those still in custody to cooperate with security forces.
The President also declared near victory over Covid-19, saying only 334 Ugandans out of 40,000-plus infected, had succumbed "unnecessarily" to the pandemic and congratulated most citizens for heeding to the prevention measures the government introduced last year.
The President, in repeat of his International Women's Day criticism of this newspaper, demanded a full front-page apology in "big letters" for what he said was a report that he and First Lady had received advance Covid-19 inoculation.
However, the article that this newspaper adapted from US publication, the Wall Street Journal, carried a report about Museveni "inner circle" and did not mention either the President or the wife as vaccine recipients.