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 Poll: US Vows Actions Against Those ‘Undermining Democracy’

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. Badru KATUMBA / AFP

 

The United States has expressed worries over reports of violence and irregularities in the recently-concluded Ugandan election, vowing to take action against masterminds of such acts.

“We urge all parties to reject violence and to use constitutional and legal means to address complaints,” the United States Department of State said in a statement on Saturday evening.

“We call upon the Government of Uganda to respect freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly and to hold accountable members of the security forces responsible for violence and abuses. We reiterate our intention to pursue action against those responsible for the undermining of democracy and human rights in Uganda.”

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

It equally condemned reported cases of human rights abuses and continued attacks on political candidates, calling for the government to respect the freedom of expression.

“We strongly urge independent, credible, impartial, and thorough investigations into these reports and that those responsible be held accountable,” the statement added.

While commending Ugandans to turning out en masse for the exercise despite an “environment of intimidation and fear,” the US called for the immediate restoration of internet and social media services shut down in the lead up to the election.

“Finally, we note the continued nationwide shutdown of the Internet and call for its immediate restoration along with that of social media services,” it noted.

A Sixth Term

Yoweri Museveni won a sixth term in office, extending his 35-year rule after an election which took place under heavy security and an internet blackout, and which his main rival said was marred by fraud and violence.

The 76-year-old leader, who took power in 1986, is one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents and was accused of crushing the opposition and media ahead of one of the most violent election campaigns in recent years.

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
File photo: 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

 

Museveni won with 58.6 percent of votes, seeing off a stiff battle from the former ragga singer Bobi Wine, 38, whose turn to politics fired up a youthful population where three quarters are under 30 years old.

Wine was under heavy guard at his home on the outskirts of Kampala as results were announced, with his party saying he was under “effective house arrest”, while the government said it was merely providing him with security.

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

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

U.S. Accuses Uganda Of Rights Violations

Rights Violations
Uganda President, Yoweri Museveni

The United States has accused Uganda of persistently violating the rights of its citizens and media in the aftermath of February’s presidential election.

The allegation of rights violations are the latest signs of worsening relations between western powers and Uganda, an ally in the fight against Islamists in the region.

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby, said in a statement that Uganda’s repeated detention of opposition figures and harassment of their supporters, and the government’s interference in a challenge of the poll results are “unacceptable activities in a free and democratic society”.

“The United States and Uganda have a long standing and strong partnership that has contributed to the stability and prosperity of the region.

“We are concerned that the Ugandan government’s recent actions could endanger the economic and political progress that has enabled our relationship to grow,” the statement said.

Uganda’s electoral commission declared 71-year-old incumbent president, Yoweri Museveni, the winner of the Feb. 18 election with 60% of the vote.

Kizza Besigye, who came in second with 35% and who is currently under house arrest, has rejected the results.