Ugandan leader stuns voters with robocalls

KAMPALA Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:14pm EST

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Not many Ugandans expect a private audience with President Yoweri Museveni. Nor a phone call.

So the ruling party's so-called robocalling of voters has floored many ahead of Friday's presidential poll.

Political robocalls are used commonly in the United States ahead of presidential elections but are unheard of in African polls where campaign money is paltry in comparison.

"This is Y.K. Museveni. I greet you," said the distinctively gravelly voice. "Vote for the old man with a hat."

In power for 25 years, Museveni, 67, whose trademark outfit is a sharp suit plus floppy hat, is expected to win a fourth term in office on Friday.

Political analyst Bernard Tabaire said it "was a weird way to start the day" and that the call was over before he had a chance to realize what was happening.

"I was amazed when I picked up the phone," said 22-year-old student Grace Mugeni. "I shouted loudly that I would vote for the opposition before I knew it was recorded."

(Reporting by Barry Malone; Editing by Richard Lough/Maria Golovnina)

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