Bobi Wine. Source: Uganda Buzz. - Photo: 2023

Uganda Bans Opposition Rallies, Detains Journalists

By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network

NEW YORK | KAMPALA | 9 October 2023 (IDN) — President Yoweri Museveni has held office for almost 40 years. To many, that would seem like more than enough.

But in poll after poll, Museveni was the candidate to beat and he eked out victories six times until a close call with rapper-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known by his stage name “Bobi Wine”. This time, Museveni’s team was filmed stuffing ballot boxes, showing 400 polling stations with 100% voter turnout and other human rights violations. 

Museveni won that round and there’s no new election until January 2026. But the President is already turning up the heat on his likely contender – most recently putting Wine in handcuffs upon his return from South Africa this week. Wine claims he was grabbed by goons and put under arrest. 

Wine was in South Africa as part of what his party termed a mobilization effort of the Ugandan diaspora.

According to local media, more than a dozen Ugandan journalists were assaulted and had their equipment vandalized by security agents deployed to control anti-government protests.

Police said the journalists were disrupting their operations at Entebbe International Airport, where opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi was arriving from South Africa.  

A great shame

The 41-year-old artist has been arrested numerous times and has faced several charged including treason. While a candidate in 2021, he was forced to campaign in a bullet proof vest, helmet and moving around in an armored car.  

“Disregard rumors of his arrest by propagandists,” the police said in a statement. 

Sub-Saharan Africa representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Muthoki Mumo, said: “It is a great shame that Uganda’s security sector repeatedly treat reporting on the political opposition as a criminal offence… 

“Police should drop any pending investigations into journalists arrested while covering Bobi Wine’s return home, investigate reports that security personnel assaulted journalists, and ensure that those responsible are held to account.” 

His supporters had planned to welcome him at Entebbe International Airport and accompany him to his home about 50 km (30 miles) away in a “One Million March”, but the police said this was illegal. 

Senior Officer Patrick Onyango told The East African that police were holding dozens of Bobi Wine supporters and charging them in courts of law. He said the supporters will be charged with inciting violence and planning to hold an illegal procession from the airport up to Kampala, a busy 43-kilometre route.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Uganda said it is tracking reports of the alleged arrest and detention of Wine at his home.

“Reports indicate that opposition supporters were also detained. Respect for freedom of assembly and allowing political parties to operate freely are fundamental values of democratic societies,” the Embassy said.

No word has been received from the African Union although unpopular leaders overstaying in power has led to their recent ousters by military of those countries. [IDN-InDepthNews]

Photo: Bobi Wine. Source: Uganda Buzz.

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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