Ugandans vote for first time

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For the first time since gaining independence 34 years ago, Ugandans voted for a president yesterday. The incumbent who shot his way to power a decade ago was expected to win.

Voters waited in long lines to cast their ballots in an election that moves the East African nation a step toward fuller democracy and away from a murderous past.

Voting at 15,994 polling stations across the country went smoothly and without violence, said the interim electoral commission spokesman, David Byakutaaga. Security personnel were scarcely visible in the capital, Kampala, where streets were quiet.

The commission chairman, Stephen Akabway, said he would announce results from each of 39 districts as they are compiled. Initially, the commission had not expected to release results until Saturday.

Nearly 8.5 million people in the nation of 18 million were eligible to vote. There was no immediate evidence of the vote-rigging that marred previous parliamentary elections.

President Yoweri Museveni, whose rebels ended two decades of terror under the dictatorships of Idi Amin and Milton Obote in 1986, was expected to easily fend off veteran politician Paul Ssemogerere and university administrator, Muhammad Mayanja.