Ugandan Opposition Leader Bobi Wine Arrested For Leading Protest

 

 

Photo Credit: Daily Monitor

 

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine was arrested on Monday as he took part in a protest in the capital, according to a post on his Twitter page.

The 39-year-old popstar-turned-presidential contender last week had called on Ugandans to “rise up peacefully and unarmed” against President Yoweri Museveni who won a sixth term in office following disputed elections in January.

“Bobi Wine arrested as he led MPs and other leaders in a peaceful protest against the abduction, torture and murder of his supporters,” said the post, written by an account administrator.

Around 15 MPs and activists from Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) political party, wearing business suits and red ties, took part in the brief protest which was quickly halted by police officers and soldiers.

Bystanders cheered their support for the small group of protesters but did not join the demonstration itself.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was first taken to a police station before being driven in a police vehicle to his home outside Kampala which is “now surrounded by police and the military,” his Twitter account said.

Following the January 14 election, Wine was held under effective house arrest for 11 days until a court ordered his release.

Demonstrations against Wine’s arrest in November during the campaign for the poll were brutally dispersed and at least 54 people died.

The police pre-emptively declared Wine’s latest call for protests illegal and warned: “organisers… to desist from participating in any unlawful activities”.

Wine was demanding the release of hundreds of his supporters he alleges have been abducted by security forces since the start of the presidential election campaign late last year.

On Thursday Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an end to what it called “ongoing abductions by suspected state agents and cease the unlawful detention without trial of opposition supporters”.

Museveni and his ministers have admitted that hundreds of Ugandans are in military detention but say they will either face a military tribunal or be released.

In a television address on Sunday night Museveni referred to people who had been abducted as “children”, described their actions as criminal and accused them of attacking government supporters.

“The children who were arrested by the security forces, many of them have been talked to and they have given us a lot of information and we have helped them to go back to their families,” he said.

-AFP

Uganda Poll: Bobi Wine Still Under ‘House Arrest’ After Election – Party

Musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, addresses the media at his home in Wakiso, Uganda, on January 8, 2021 to announce his plans to take President Yoweri Museveni to the International Court Commission (ICC), accusing him of crimes against humanity over the past few months. SUMY SADURNI / AFP
Musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, addresses the media at his home in Wakiso, Uganda, on January 8, 2021 to announce his plans to take President Yoweri Museveni to the International Court Commission (ICC), accusing him of crimes against humanity over the past few months. SUMY SADURNI / AFP

 

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine remains under “house arrest”, his party said on Sunday after a disputed election returned President Yoweri Museveni to office for a sixth term.

The former ragga singer turned lawmaker came second in the presidential election and has said the process was marred by widespread fraud and violence.

He has not left his home since he went out to vote in the election on Thursday, and on Friday said he was under “siege” as soldiers and police surrounded his home, preventing anyone from entering or leaving.

“Our leader … is effectively under house arrest,” National Unity Platform spokesman Joel Ssenyonyi told a press conference, adding no one was being allowed access.

“His home is not a detention facility. We are very concerned about the state in which he is in, and his wife.”

A Twitter update under Wine’s account, written by an administrator as Uganda remains under an internet blackout for a fifth day, said the couple had “run out of food supplies.”

The party said prominent MP, Francis Zaake, who had been arrested during an attempted visit to Wine’s house on Friday, had been admitted to hospital “badly beaten and brutalised” by security forces.

Ugandan officials have said the soldiers and police were there for Wine’s own security.

– ‘Minority clique’ –
Wine and his NUP have yet to outline their next steps after dismissing the election as a “complete sham”.

“Once again, a minority clique is forcing themselves on the majority of Uganda. That is something that we are going to resist. It is something that we are going to say no to using every avenue provided for within the law,” said Ssenyonyi.

Museveni, 76, has ruled Uganda without pause since seizing control in 1986, when he helped to end years of tyranny under Idi Amin and Milton Obote.

 

This combination of pictures created on January 11, 2021 shows Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (L) waiting to welcome President of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi prior to his arrival at the state house in Entebbe, Uganda, on November 9, 2019, and Ugandan musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi (R), also known as Bobi Wine, waiting for news on his producer and friend Dan Magic, who was severly injured by teargas cannisters and rubber bullets used by police in order to disperse crowds in Kayunga, Uganda on December 1, 2020. Sumy Sadurni / AFP
This combination of pictures created on January 11, 2021 shows Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (L) waiting to welcome President of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi prior to his arrival at the state house in Entebbe, Uganda, on November 9, 2019, and Ugandan musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi (R), also known as Bobi Wine, waiting for news on his producer and friend Dan Magic, who was severly injured by teargas cannisters and rubber bullets used by police in order to disperse crowds in Kayunga, Uganda on December 1, 2020. Sumy Sadurni / AFP

 

Once hailed for his commitment to good governance, the former rebel leader has crushed any opposition and tweaked the constitution to allow himself to run again and again.

His re-election with 58.6 percent of the vote, to Wine’s 34.8 percent, came after the most violent election campaign in recent years, with the harassment of the opposition, media and deaths of scores of Wine’s supporters.

READ ALSO: [Uganda Poll] US Vows Actions Against Those ‘Undermining Democracy’

Wine said there had been ballot-box stuffing, intimidation, and that his party’s agents had been beaten and chased away during the election on Thursday.

However Museveni has said it was the cleanest election in the country’s history.

US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus praised Ugandans on Saturday for voting “despite an environment of intimidation and fear”.

She added that the US was “deeply troubled by the many credible reports of security force violence during the pre-election period and election irregularities during the polls”.

AFP

Uganda Decides: Museveni Closing In On Victory, Bobi Wine Alleges Fraud

This combination of pictures created on January 11, 2021 shows
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (L) waiting to welcome President of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi prior to his arrival at the state house in Entebbe, Uganda, on November 9, 2019, and Ugandan musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi (R), also known as Bobi Wine,. (Photo by Sumy Sadurni / AFP)

 

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni looked headed for a sixth term as president with election results Saturday placing him firmly ahead of his main rival, who has cried fraud and whose home has been put under heavy guard.

The country’s election commission announced that with 86.7 percent of polling stations reporting results, Museveni had 58.8 percent of votes, while former popstar Bobi Wine had 34.2 percent.

Final results are expected by Saturday afternoon.

Wine, 38, meanwhile was on track to see his newly formed National Unity Platform (NUP) become the main opposition party in Parliament, notably winning eight of nine constituencies in the capital Kampala.

The poll followed one of the most violent campaigns in years, with harassment and arrests of the opposition, attacks on the media and the deaths of at least 54 people.

 

READ ALSO: Ugandan Opposition Candidate Bobi Wine Says His Home Is ‘Under Siege’

 

Thursday’s election took place in apparent calm, but under the oppressive presence of soldiers and riot police and an internet blackout which has now entered its fourth day.

However Wine has alleged widespread fraud such as ballot box stuffing and said his party agents had in some places been beaten and chased away from polling stations.

“Whatever is being declared is a complete sham, we reject it and we dissociate ourselves with it,” he said on Friday.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, promised to provide video evidence once the internet was restored.

Election commission chairman Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama said “the onus is on candidate Kyagulanyi to show how votes are rigged.”

On Friday late afternoon Wine told AFP he felt under threat as soldiers surrounded his home

“They jumped over my fence. They came inside my compound. They are here right now. I don’t know why they’re here. But I’m imagining they are here to harm me. I feel threatened,” said the 38-year-old, who described the invasion as unprecedented and “a siege”.

The army’s deputy spokesman Deo Akiiki said the soldiers were there to provide security and had stopped three people who tried to “access the house”.

Police have advised people not to go out to celebrate or protest when results are announced citing draconian Covid-19 regulations which have regularly been used to crack down on the opposition.

 

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni shows his ink-marked thumb after casting his ballot at the Kaaroh high school polling station in Kiruhura, Uganda, on January 14 ,2021. Ugandans voted on January 14, 2021 under heavy security and an internet blackout in an election pitting veteran leader Yoweri Museveni against a former popstar after one of the bloodiest campaigns in years.
Badru KATUMBA / AFP

– 35 years of Museveni –

Museveni has ruled Uganda without pause since seizing control in 1986, when he helped to end years of tyranny under Idi Amin and Milton Obote. He is one of Africa’s longest serving leaders.

Once hailed for his commitment to good governance, the former rebel leader has crushed any opposition and tweaked the constitution to allow himself to run again and again.

And for many in the country, where the median age is 16 and most have known only one president, Museveni’s glory days are no longer relevant or sufficient.

Wine, with his humble origins in a slum and popular songs about economic and social injustice, struck a cord with the youth, but observers say the odds were stacked against him with Museveni’s powerful grip on the state.

The election took place with no major internation observer mission aside from the African Union, with the United States saying too many of its staff were denied permission to monitor the vote.

-AFP

Ugandan Opposition Candidate Bobi Wine Says His Home Is ‘Under Siege’

Musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine (2nd L), and his wife Barbara Itungo Kyagulanyi (L) leave a polling station in Magere, Uganda, on January 14, 2021, after having cast their ballots. PHOTO: YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP

 

Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, says his home is “under siege” from the military.

He made this announcement in a Tweet via his official handle on Friday.

“The military has jumped over the fence and has now taken control of our home,” he said in a tweet on Friday.

He added in another that “None of these military intruders is talking to us. We are in serious trouble. We are under siege.”

Wine had earlier on Friday claimed victory in the presidential elections, rejecting as a “complete sham” early results that gave President Yoweri Museveni a wide lead.

The 38-year-old former singer said his party’s polling agents were beaten and chased away in parts of northern and western Uganda, that ballot boxes were opened and stuffed, and that some voters were only given ballots for the parliamentary election.

76-year-old Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is seeking a sixth term after almost four decades in power, and the youthful Wine has emerged as his main rival in a country where most have known only one president

Uganda Decides: Bobi Wine Rejects Results As Museveni Takes Early Lead

Musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, also a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, speaks during a press conference in Kampala, Uganda, on January 12, 2021.
SUMY SADURNI / AFP

 

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine on Friday claimed victory in presidential elections, rejecting as a “complete sham” early results that gave President Yoweri Museveni a wide lead.

The 38-year-old former ragga singer said his party’s polling agents were beaten and chased away in parts of northern and western Uganda, that ballot boxes were opened and stuffed, and that some voters were only given ballots for the parliamentary election.

Museveni, 76, is seeking a sixth term after almost four decades in power, and the youthful Wine has emerged his main rival in a country where most have known only one president.

READ ALSO: WHO Tackles New Strains As China Logs First COVID-19 Death In 8 Months

The internet remained down for a third day as vote counting continued from Thursday’s poll, with provisional results from 29 percent of polling stations giving Museveni an early lead of 63.9 percent while Wine trailed with 28 percent.

“I am very confident that we defeated the dictator by far. I call upon all Ugandans to reject the blackmail. We have certainly won the election and we’ve won it by far,” Wine told journalists.

“Whatever is being declared is a complete sham we reject it and we dissociate ourselves with it.”

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, listed a host of irregularities in different districts and promised to provide video evidence once the internet was restored.

He said he would announce a strategy in coming hours

Election commission chairman Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama said he did “not appreciate the assertion that these results we are reading out are rigged”.

“The onus is on candidate Kyagulanyi to show how votes are rigged.”

On Friday morning the capital Kampala was quiet and some businesses remained closed, while soldiers and police patrolled on foot.

Full results are expected by Saturday afternoon.

– Ghetto president –
Museveni faced a total of 10 candidates, but it is the popularity of the former popstar Wine, who grew up in a slum and is nicknamed the “ghetto president”, that has rattled the former rebel leader.

The poll followed one of the most violent campaigns in years, with harassment and arrests of the opposition, attacks on the media and scores of deaths.

However, Byabakama said the vote had gone off in a “peaceful and tranquil manner”.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga said there had been “no major cases of violence reported”.

A senior foreign diplomat told AFP there had been sporadic incidents of violence and many irregularities but no sign of mass manipulation.

– Observers denied –
The US, EU, UN and global rights and democracy groups have raised concerns about the integrity and transparency of the election.

Only one foreign organisation, the African Union (AU), has sent monitors, along with an AU women’s group.

The United States, a major aid donor to Uganda, cancelled a diplomatic observer mission after too many of its staff were denied permission to monitor the election.

Wine has vowed non-violent street protests should Ugandans feel the election was stolen.

Museveni has warned that using violence to protest the result would amount to “treason”.

 

This combination of pictures created on January 11, 2021 shows Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (L) waiting to welcome President of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi prior to his arrival at the state house in Entebbe, Uganda, on November 9, 2019, and Ugandan musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi (R), also known as Bobi Wine, waiting for news on his producer and friend Dan Magic, who was severly injured by teargas cannisters and rubber bullets used by police in order to disperse crowds in Kayunga, Uganda on December 1, 2020. Photo by Sumy Sadurni / AFP)

 

He has ruled Uganda without pause since seizing control in 1986 when he helped to end years of tyranny under Idi Amin and Milton Obote.

Once hailed for his commitment to good governance, the former rebel leader has crushed any opposition and tweaked the constitution to allow himself to run again and again.

And for many in the country, where the median age is 16, Museveni’s glory days are no longer relevant or sufficient.

But Museveni, one of Africa’s longest serving leaders, has never lost an election and observers expect this time around will be no different.

His opponents — most visibly Wine, who spent much of the campaign in a bulletproof vest and combat helmet — were arrested, blocked from rallying and dispersed with tear gas throughout the campaign.

Two days of protests in November led to the deaths of 54 people.

AFP

Uganda’s Bobi Wine Claims He Won Election ‘By Far’

Musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, casts his ballot during the presidential and parliamentary at a polling station in Magere, Uganda, on January 14, 2021. SUMY SADURNI / AFP

 

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine on Friday claimed victory in a presidential election, rejecting early results which gave President Yoweri Museveni a wide lead as a “joke”.

“I am very confident that we defeated the dictator by far. I call upon all Ugandans to reject the blackmail. We have certainly won the election and we’ve won it by far,” he told journalists.

The 38-year-old former ragga singer turned politician has been the main rival to Uganda’s veteran leader who has been in power since 1986 and is seeking a sixth term in office.

Musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, also a presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, speaks during a press conference in Kampala, Uganda, on January 12, 2021.
SUMY SADURNI / AFP

 

The internet remained down for a third day as vote counting continued, with provisional results from 29 percent of polling stations giving Museveni an early lead of 63 percent while Wine trailed with 28 percent.

“The people of Uganda voted massively for change of leadership from a dictatorship to a democratic government. But Mr. Museveni is trying to paint a picture that he is in the lead. What a joke!” said Wine.

 

This combination of pictures created on January 11, 2021 shows Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (L) waiting to welcome President of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi prior to his arrival at the state house in Entebbe, Uganda, on November 9, 2019, and Ugandan musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi (R), also known as Bobi Wine, waiting for news on his producer and friend Dan Magic, who was severly injured by teargas cannisters and rubber bullets used by police in order to disperse crowds in Kayunga, Uganda on December 1, 2020. (Photo by Sumy Sadurni / AFP)

 

He said the election was marred by “illegal, high handed actions which Museveni and his regime of blood have undertaken to set stage for the worst rigging this country has even witnessed.”

READ ALSO: Uganda Regulator Orders Social Media Shutdown Ahead Of Vote

He said he would detail the irregularities once the internet was restored.

AFP

Uganda Poll: Bobi Wine Claims ‘Fraud And Violence’ Marred Election Day

Photo Credit: Nation Breaking News

 

Uganda’s opposition leader Bobi Wine said early Friday that the country’s election had seen “widespread fraud and violence”, but he remained positive as votes were counted under an internet blackout.

“Despite the widespread fraud and violence experienced across the country earlier today, the picture still looks good. Thank you Uganda for turning up and voting in record numbers,” Wine tweeted shortly after midnight, managing to bypass the blockage.

The 38-year-old former popstar-turned-lawmaker did not give details about his accusations, which contradicted the government’s account that Thursday’s vote had been peaceful with no major cases of violence reported.

The internet remained down for a third day as vote counting continued in the country. Results are expected by Saturday afternoon.

READ ALSO: Ugandans Vote In Charged Election Under Internet Blackout

President Yoweri Museveni is seeking a sixth term in office, and Wine is his main competitor among 11 opposition candidates.

The election took place after one of the most violent campaigns in years, with harassment and arrests of the opposition, attacks on the media and scores of deaths.

AFP

Ugandans Vote In Charged Election Under Internet Blackout

(COMBO/FILES) This combination of pictures created on January 11, 2021 shows
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni (L) and Ugandan musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi (R), also known as Bobi Wine. (Photo by Sumy Sadurni / AFP)

 

Ugandans began voting in a tense election Thursday under heavy security and an internet blackout as veteran leader Yoweri Museveni pursues a sixth term against a former pop star half his age.

The internet went down on the eve of the vote, with some parts of the country reporting complete disruptions or significant slowdowns, after one of the most violent campaigns in years.

Museveni is seeking a sixth term in office, having ruled for almost four decades, against singer-turned-MP Bobi Wine, 38, whose popularity among a youthful population has rattled the former rebel leader.

In the Kamwokya slum, where Wine grew up and is hugely popular, voters streamed to a polling station as police tried to enforce social distancing after weeks of surging coronavirus cases in the East African nation.

A group of about two dozen riot officers marched past, with heavy military and police presence in other parts of the capital.

“I am here to change the leadership of this nation because for years they’ve been telling me they will secure my future. They have not done that,” said driver Joseph Nsuduga, 30, one of the first in line to vote.

“I need to see change for my children. People are yearning for change but we are seeing nothing.”

Voting was delayed in several locations in the capital Kampala, beginning about half an hour after the official starting time of 7am (0400 GMT). Polls close at 4pm (1200 GMT).

Some 18 million voters are registered for the presidential and parliamentary vote, and results are expected by Saturday.

Museveni has ruled Uganda without pause since seizing control in 1986, when he helped to end years of tyranny under Idi Amin.

Once hailed for his commitment to good governance, the former rebel leader has crushed any opposition and tweaked the constitution to allow himself to run again and again.

The run-up to polling day was marred by a sustained crackdown on Museveni’s rivals and government critics, and unprecedented attacks on the nation’s media and human rights defenders.

In November, at least 54 people were shot dead by security forces loyal to Museveni during protests against one of Wine’s numerous arrests.

On Wednesday armoured-personnel carriers with mounted machine guns patrolled parts of Kampala and army helicopters and surveillance drones flew over the teeming capital where the political opposition has traditionally enjoyed support.

The energetic and often genial Museveni is active on social media such as Twitter — where he released an exercise video to help citizens stay fit during lockdown — and retains support among voters such as Ceria Makumbi, 52.

“He has brought security to our country… He built hospitals, roads and brought Uganda to an international standard,” the businesswoman told AFP.

– Little oversight –
The US, EU, UN and global rights and democracy groups have raised concerns about the integrity and transparency of the election.

Only one foreign organisation, the African Union (AU), has sent monitors, along with an AU women’s group.

On Wednesday, the United States, a major aid donor to Uganda, announced it was cancelling a diplomatic observer mission after too many of its staff were denied permission to monitor the election.

In a statement, US ambassador Natalie Brown warned the refusal meant the election “will lack the accountability, transparency and confidence” brought by independent oversight.

On Tuesday, Museveni announced the suspension of social media networks and messaging services like Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp in response to Facebook closing accounts linked to government officials the tech giant said were spreading misinformation.

Wine is the strongest of 10 opposition contenders trying to unseat Museveni.

But most observers expect the ageing president and his ruling National Resistance Movement to emerge victorious.

He has never lost an election, and has been counting down the days to victory in confident campaign advertisements, promising to invest more in infrastructure, health and education and build Uganda’s economy.

But Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has accused the president of presiding over corruption and failing to deliver jobs.

– Generation gap –
The population has a median age of just less than 16, and many Ugandans have never known anyone but Museveni in charge.

In Kamwokya Cate Nabbale, 20, a primary school teacher, voted for the first time.

“I am so excited … I want to see Uganda growing, things changing,” she told AFP.

Wine has vowed non-violent street protests should Ugandans feel the election was stolen.

The opposition leader has urged them to turn out in large numbers and vote, saying they should not fear intimidation by the authorities.

Museveni has warned his opponents against taking to the streets.

“If you use violence to protest against an election result, that is treason,” Museveni said in a national address Tuesday.

Bobi Wine, The ‘Ghetto President’ Rattling Uganda’s Museveni

Photo Credit: Nation Breaking News

 

Ten years ago, ragga singer Bobi Wine, sporting dreadlocks and oversized black sunglasses, regularly appeared in music videos surrounded by women, driving a Cadillac with a joint hanging out of his mouth.

Today the star, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, is an MP dressed in dark, tailored suits who is fighting to become president of Uganda in Thursday’s election.

The 38-year-old former pop star has become the main challenger to President Yoweri Museveni, 76, who came to power in 1986 and is the only president that many in Uganda have ever known.

While Wine has been arrested numerous times since 2018, and says he was sometimes tortured, he has accused the regime of going to extremes to crack down on his campaign in recent weeks.

READ ALSO: Uganda Regulator Orders Social Media Shutdown Ahead Of Vote

He has taken to wearing a bulletproof vest and combat helmet on the campaign trail, where his meetings have often ended in a cloud of teargas and with live rounds fired.

The hashtag #WeAreRemovingADictator has spread on social media among the supporters of his National Unity Platform (NUP).

– Fight against injustice –

Wine grew up in one of Kampala’s biggest slums, Kamwokya, where thousands of Ugandans struggle to get by and feel forgotten by Museveni’s government.

While he went on to study music and drama at university and now lives in a better neighbourhood, he still sees himself as the “ghetto president”, a nickname he earned through his songs denouncing social and economic injustice.

His modest origins and youth are key to his popularity in a poor country where 40 percent of voters are under 30 years old and have known no president but Museveni.

 

Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, says President Museveni is attempting to derail his bid to stand in polls scheduled for 2021. AFP

 

As an MP, Wine notably fought against a tax on social media, widely seen as unfair and limiting freedom of speech.

“Having lived in the ghetto he appreciates how the poor like us live,” said supporter and businessman Charles Mbagga, 37, who lives in the Gayaza slum, 15 kilometres (nine miles) north of the capital.

“Bobi Wine is popular because of his message for change, fight against injustice, corruption and unemployment among the poor and the youths.”

He originally hails from the dominant Buganda kingdom — one of several traditional kingdoms which were forced together under colonialism — and is popular there.

“(The) Buganda kingdom is an important factor in the political context of Uganda. Bobi Wine has always been very careful with Buganda, making sure he has them on his side,” said Kristof Titeca, a researcher at the University of Antwerp in Belgium.

But analysts are sceptical over Wine’s capacity to pull off an election win. The country is still traumatised by the tyranny of brutal dictator Idi Amin, who Museveni helped oust, ushering in peace and stability.

Rural areas and some groups like the military remain firmly behind the president.

– ‘Dictatorship in panic’ –

Nevertheless, the regime has shown in recent weeks a certain anxiety towards the young upstart who Museveni has in the past referred to as “our grandson, the undisciplined Bobi Wine”.

In mid-November at least 54 people were killed in clashes with police which were sparked by Wine’s umpteenth arrest. In December a member of the singer’s security team was killed by the army, according to his National Unity Platform (NUP).

At the end of December, election rallies — already restricted to a quick address from the roof of a car — were banned in Kampala and 10 other key districts.

Officially, this was due to Covid-19, but Wine and observers have seen this as a deliberate bid to frustrate his campaign.

“The dictatorship is in panic. They’ve been surprised by the massive enthusiasm and support we’ve been received with in all parts of the country,” Wine wrote on Twitter.

Titeca argues the regime may have shot itself in the foot by cracking down on him, and the repression may help Wine win even more votes.

“The fact he has been able to face that crackdown, people getting killed around him, him not backing down on everything that is happening, it has made him a martyr in a way, somebody who dares to stand up to the current system,” said the analyst.

AFP

Uganda Opposition Leader Bobi Wine Charged, Freed On Bail

Photo Credit: Nation Breaking News

 

A Ugandan court on Friday charged opposition leader Bobi Wine over an election rally which allegedly flouted Covid-19 rules, then freed him on bail, after his detention sparked violence that left 37 dead.

Wine was charged with “doing an act likely to spread infectious diseases contrary to the penal code and rules of the public health on Covid-19,” said judiciary spokesman Solomon Muyita.

Two days of protests were sparked by Wine’s arrest on Wednesday ahead of a political rally in the run-up to the January 14 election, in which he is seen as the main challenger to President Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking to extend his 36-year rule.

READ ALSO: $200M Needed For Ethiopian Refugees In Sudan, Says UN

Wine, a musician-turned-politician, was charged on Friday with infringing Covid-19 restrictions on large gatherings.

“I was violently arrested, tortured while in detention, threatened with death but this did not break my resolve,” Wine told AFP after his release.

“I promise the people of Uganda that whatever the situation I will not abandon them on a journey we started together, we must finish it together and that’s when we have removed a dictator from power,” he said, referring to Museveni.

In Kampala, drivers blared their horns and radio stations played Wine’s hits after news of his release came through.

Dozens died and hundreds were arrested this week as tyres were burned and police responded to hurled rocks with teargas, rubber bullets and live rounds in the capital Kampala and other towns.

There was a heavy police and army presence in Kampala with roadblocks and security checks.

Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi (R), also known as Bobi Wine, appears at the court with his wife Barbara Itungo, in Iganga, on November 19, 2020. Badru KATUMBA / AFP
Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi (R), also known as Bobi Wine, appears at the court with his wife Barbara Itungo, in Iganga, on November 19, 2020. Badru KATUMBA / AFP

 

“We have recorded so far 37 dead bodies, those related to the protests which started Wednesday,” police health director Moses Byaruhanga told AFP, adding that the victims had died of wounds and suffocation.

Addressing a press conference Friday, police spokesman Fred Enanga claimed the protests were “part of a loosely coordinated campaign” and not spontaneous.

He said that bows and arrows, as well as bottles, tyres and fuel for incendiary devices had been found.

“All indicators reveal these were not just impromptu actions,” he said, adding that 375 people had so far been arrested.

‘Weaponising’ the pandemic

Wine is due to appear in court again on December 18.

According to the charge sheet, seen by AFP, Wine is accused of “an act which he knew or had reason to believe was likely to spread the infection of Covid-19.”

Human Rights Watch accuses Uganda of seeking to “weaponise” pandemic restrictions, using rules on gatherings to stop political rallies.

“The authorities have consistently used Covid-19 guidelines as an excuse for violent repression of the opposition rather than to safeguard the democratic playing field for free and fair elections,” said Africa researcher Oryem Nyeko.

A supporter of Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, carries his poster as they protest on a street against the arrest of Kyagulanyi during his presidential rally in Kampala, Uganda, on November 18, 2020.  Badru KATUMBA / AFP
A supporter of Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, carries his poster as they protest on a street against the arrest of Kyagulanyi during his presidential rally in Kampala, Uganda, on November 18, 2020. Badru KATUMBA / AFP

 

The violence has raised fears and drawn condemnation.

“The increasing spate of violence so early in the campaign season does not bode well for the weeks to come before the elections,” said Nyeko.

The rights group urged security forces to “respect the rights of people to peacefully protest”.

In New York, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric this week called for Wine’s release, while the US embassy in Kampala said it deplored the violence and extended its sympathy to the victims and their families.

Youth vs the old guard

Wine, a 38-year-old popstar, has become a lightning rod for opposition to Museveni, who is seeking a sixth term.

Many young Ugandans see Wine as their champion in a country mired in poverty and youth unemployment.

Museveni, a 76-year-old former rebel who seized power in 1986, is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

Wine has been repeatedly arrested, most recently on November 3 after he filed his candidacy for the elections, his concerts are routinely banned and his public rallies broken up with teargas.

Other opposition candidates have also been detained and had their rallies broken up by security forces who claim the gatherings contravene Covid-19 restrictions.

However, Museveni’s own rallies have gone ahead unimpeded.

16 Killed In Riots Over Uganda Politician Arrest

A supporter of Ugandan musician turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, carries his poster as they protest on a street against the arrest of Kyagulanyi during his presidential rally in Kampala, Uganda, on November 18, 2020. Badru KATUMBA / AFP

 

Sixteen people have been killed in two days of violent clashes between Ugandan security forces and supporters of detained opposition leader Bobi Wine, police said Thursday, as tensions flared two months before a presidential election.

Ugandan security forces fired teargas and rubber bullets at angry protesters who set fires, barricaded roads and looted stores in the capital Kampala, as calls mounted for calm ahead of the January 14 elections.

The popstar-turned-presidential candidate Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was still in detention after being arrested on Wednesday for allegedly violating coronavirus measures at his rallies, over the large crowds attending.

“The death toll is now 16, with 45 injuries, some serious injuries,” Kampala police chief Moses Kafeero told AFP, without giving details of those killed.

“About 350 people have been arrested for participating in violent acts including looting, destruction of property, traffic disruption, theft and robberies during the riots,” he added.

Protests kicked off on Wednesday when police said seven were killed, after Wine’s detention ahead of a rally. Wine is considered the main challenger to veteran President Yoweri Museveni who is seeking a sixth term in power.

Pockets of protests continued throughout the day in Kampala and other major towns, with youths barricading roads, starting fires and engaging in running battles with police who lobbed tear gas and fired rubber bullets at protesters, and in some cases, fired live bullets.

– Gunshot wounds –

The Red Cross said late Wednesday it had treated dozens of injured following “scuffles involving the police and the rioting masses”, including 11 people for gunshot wounds.

While the military and police maintained a heavy presence, by the evening the situation had deteriorated with robberies taking place and shops being looted.

An AFP journalist saw hooded men stopping vehicles in a suburb of Kampala, and robbing passengers before police opened fire on the perpetrators.

“My phone, money and handbag has been taken,” said 42-year-old Flavia Namutebi, a Kampala businesswoman who was in a taxi that was robbed.

“They said they want money to bail out Bobi Wine,” she said.

Another man identified as Ivan Kakawa, 29, a shoe seller, told AFP, “the men beat me and demanded I give them money.”

Uganda’s judiciary issued a statement saying a courthouse in the central town of Wobulenzi, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Kampala had been vandalised by protesters.

– The old vs the new –

Wine, 38, has long been a thorn in Museveni’s side, attracting a widespread following through catchy pop songs about social justice and corruption.

Many young Ugandans see him as their champion in a country mired in poverty and youth unemployment.

Museveni, a 76-year-old former rebel who seized power in 1986, is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

Wine has been repeatedly arrested — most recently on November 3 after he filed his candidacy for the elections — his concerts are routinely banned and his public rallies broken up with teargas.

In New York, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric on Thursday called for Wine’s release.

“We call for the immediate release of the detained opposition leaders, including Bobi Wine, and it’s important that security forces act in a way that respects human rights principles and the rule of law in dealing with protesters.”

The US embassy published a tweet saying it deplored the violence and extended its sympathy to the victims and their families.

“We urge all parties to renounce violence, undertake good-faith measures to reduce tensions, and respect fundamental freedoms,” it said.

Patrick Oboi Amuriat, the candidate with the Forum for Democratic Change, was also detained on Wednesday but was subsequently released.

“I can say am out of police cells but not free as the police can arrest me any time as they have been doing,” he told AFP.

He said his party was reviewing whether to continue their campaign or not.

Two other presidential candidates, Henry Tumukunde and Gregory Mugisha Muntu, have called off their campaigns until Uganda’s electoral body takes action over what they called police brutality against opposition candidates.

Museveni made no immediate comment on the protests, and held a rally in the northeastern town of Karamoja.

AFP

Ugandan Pop-Star MP Bobi Wine Arrested During Office Raid

Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, says President Museveni is attempting to derail his bid to stand in polls scheduled for 2021.

 

Ugandan security forces detained pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine on Wednesday during a raid of the presidential aspirant’s offices in the capital Kampala, his lawyer said.

Wine, an opposition MP whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has previously been arrested numerous times as he has rattled the ruling party of President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the East African nation since 1986.

Wine’s lawyer Anthony Wameli said his client was seized on Wednesday at the offices of his opposition party, the National Unity Platform.

“The police and the army raided the office of NUP, sealed off the premises and all the roads leading to the place before detaining Bobi Wine and other party officials,” Wameli told AFP.

“This is despicable and an attack on democracy by the partisan police and the army,” he said. The reason for the raid was unknown but “politics cannot be ruled out”, he added.

Earlier in the day, Wine tweeted that the police and military had “broken into offices and taken away valuable documents”.

“The partisanship of security agencies ahead of the election is stinking,” he said, adding that “some comrades have been injured”.

Uganda police spokesman Patrick Onyango confirmed there was “an ongoing operation at NUP offices”.

“Our officers have deployed at the premises. Details of the operation will be given later,” he added, refusing to comment on the reports that Wine had been detained.

The media was kept away from the NUP’s offices and surrounding streets on Wednesday, but armed officers could be seen through the window, according to an AFP journalist.

Wine, 38, has become a popular figure among the youth in a country where the median age is less than 16.

After nearly a quarter century in power, the 76-year-old Museveni is the only president most have known.

Wine, nicknamed the “Ghetto President”, announced last year he would challenge Museveni in 2021’s presidential election.

But since becoming an MP in 2017, he has been routinely arrested and put under house arrest, his concerts banned and public rallies dispersed with teargas.

Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving rulers, had the constitution amended for a second time to allow him to run a sixth time in 2021.

 

-AFP