Bobi Wine arrested, released after hours

Wednesday, November 4th, 2020 00:00 |
Bobi Wine was detained by police before the planned event at a school in Wakiso district. Photo/COURTESY

Kampala, Tuesday

Ugandan Opposition leader and popular singer Bobi Wine was arrested on Tuesday soon after he was certified as a candidate in next year’s presidential election, his party says.

“They [police] used a hammer and broke the windows of his vehicle and forcefully dragged him out.

They bundled him into their own vehicle and took off,” Joel Senyonyi, spokesman for Wine’s NUP party, said on Tuesday.

Critics say Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, increasingly depends on the armed forces to assert his authority.

The local NBS Television, reporting from the scene, said the singer was put into a police van amid violent scuffles between police and his supporters.

Wine, 38, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, aims to end President Yoweri Museveni’s 34 years in power, making him Africa’s third longest-ruling leader. Elections are scheduled for February next year.

Wine’s youthful age and his music have earned him a large following in the relatively young country of 42 million, rattling the governing National Resistance Movement (NRM) party and drawing a security crackdown on his supporters.

The musician, who put out a song in the early days of the pandemic encouraging people to wash their hands, has built up a following among Uganda’s younger voters – about 75 percent of the population is below 30.

Since Wine expressed his presidential ambition, police and the military have repeatedly dispersed his rallies and beaten and detained his supporters.

On Monday, Museveni, 76, warned that anyone breaking the peace would regret their actions, as he formally started his bid for another term in office.

“I am hearing … some people want to disturb our peace. Whoever tries will regret [it],” the president said after the Electoral Commission accepted his nomination papers.

“For us, we do not joke, we fought to bring peace,” he told reporters in comments broadcast on television.

Supporters have praised Museveni for bringing in investment and bolstering the economy.

But his opponents accuse him of crushing dissent and presiding over widespread corruption – charges he has repeatedly dismissed. Museveni, who was nominated as a candidate on Monday, said afterwards that his government would not tolerate the activities of enemies plotting chaos.

“There’s nobody who is going to disturb here. Whoever tries will regret. Because for us, we don’t play,” the president said.

“The [ruling party] fought to bring peace in this country. Nobody has more guns than us. But we won’t scare people.”

The electoral commission has not fixed a date for the polls.

Winehas captured the imagination of many Ugandans with his persistent calls for the 76-year-old Museveni to retire. He is especially popular with poor people in urban areas.

“We now enter the most critical phase of our liberation struggle!” Wine tweeted after having his candidacy certified.

Wine and other opposition leaders have been frequently arrested in recent years, sometimes detained within their own homes by police citing a need to prevent crimes from being committed.

Those actions have reinforced a view among some Ugandans that the police serve at the behest of Museveni, who has rebuffed repeated calls to retire peacefully. - Agencies

More on World