Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

Ugandan opposition leader and former popstar, Bobi Wine, has asserted that he is under house arrest following his return home from an overseas trip, during which he was reportedly seized by security officials. Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, gained prominence for his political activism, particularly in the 2021 Ugandan presidential election when he ran against long-standing President Yoweri Museveni. This recent incident adds to a series of arrests and confrontations between Wine and the authorities.

Speaking from his residence north of the capital Kampala, Wine recounted the events of his return, describing his apprehension by unidentified individuals upon landing. According to Wine, he was forcibly taken from the airport to a military vehicle, which transported him to his home. He expressed feeling humiliated by the ordeal.

Wine also claimed that approximately 300 of his supporters were arrested in connection with his return. However, he did not provide specific details, and independent verification of this claim was not possible at the time.

In response, the Ugandan police disputed Wine’s account of being arrested, stating that they had merely “escorted” him from Entebbe International Airport to his residence in Magere. They further clarified that Wine had arrived safely at his home, surrounded by family and friends. The police urged the public to disregard any rumors of his arrest.

A video shared by Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) depicted the opposition leader being confronted by security personnel as he disembarked from the plane. In the footage, an individual can be heard repeatedly asking, “Where are you taking him?”

Wine’s supporters had intended to accompany him in a large gathering to his residence, but the police had deemed such an assembly illegal.

Ugandan authorities have a history of employing “preventative arrest” measures to detain opposition figures, detaining them temporarily before returning them to their homes, a tactic used to thwart mass demonstrations.

Last month, Ugandan police banned rallies organized by the National Unity Platform across the country, citing concerns related to public order.

Wine’s bid for the presidency in 2021 was characterized by a heavy crackdown on opposition voices, with at least 54 people losing their lives during anti-government protests.

Bobi Wine’s return from South Africa via Rwanda followed a tour promoting a National Geographic TV documentary titled “Bobi Wine: The People’s President.” His arrival was eagerly awaited by his supporters, who see him as a symbol of change in a country long dominated by one leader.

Ugandan security forces were deployed along routes to Entebbe airport, as well as outside NUP offices and in Kampala’s central business district in anticipation of Wine’s return. The police had previously warned against the planned procession and urged the public not to participate, describing it as an “illegality.”

Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president since 1986, has tightened his grip on power, repeatedly amending the constitution to extend his rule. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2026, with Museveni, now 79 years old, yet to confirm if he will seek another term.

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