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Uganda opposition leader Bobi Wine says under house arrest

Wine said police and soldiers had barred him from leaving his home
Wine said police and soldiers had barred him from leaving his home - Copyright AFP Sam Yeh
Wine said police and soldiers had barred him from leaving his home - Copyright AFP Sam Yeh

Ugandan opposition leader and former presidential candidate Bobi Wine said on Thursday police had surrounded his residence and put him “under house arrest” ahead of a planned protest.

Opposition politicians had planned demonstrations on Thursday against the poor condition of roads in Uganda, which is hosting two global summits this month.

Wine, a popstar-turned-politician, said police and soldiers had barred him from leaving his home in Magere, north of the capital Kampala. 

“The cowardly military and police have surrounded our home and put us under house arrest but the protest is on,” the National Unity Platform (NUP) leader said on his official social media accounts. 

“Fix our roads! Free Political Prisoners! Free Uganda!” 

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, challenged veteran President Yoweri Museveni in Uganda’s last election in 2021, calling for an end to his iron-fisted rule.

Former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change opposition party said on Thursday that he had not been allowed to leave his house either.

“Barricaded at home by the COWARDS! No turning back; we deserve better. Please do what you can, wherever you’re, with whatever you have, to show the terrible roads affecting you today,” he posted on X.

A police spokesman confirmed the “security deployment” outside the two residences.

“We have taken some measures to stop them from instigating some people to hold unlawful assemblies and political demonstrations,” Patrick Onyango, spokesman for Kampala Metropolitan Police, told AFP.

“There is security deployment at Bobi Wine and Dr Besigye’s homes, not to arrest but as a preventive measure in line with police mandate,” he said.

“We warn whoever is planning to take part in the illegal assemblies and protests that they will be arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the law.” 

– Controversial clean-up drive –

Opposition parties have accused the government of having detained homeless people and razed thousands of roadside kiosks in a clean-up drive ahead of the Non-Aligned Movement and G77+China summits in Kampala.

The authorities have banned most motorcycle taxis from operating in Kampala for the duration of the summits, clearing them out of their traditional parking zones.

Besigye told AFP that even though he was “not allowed to move out” of his home, the protests would go ahead as planned.

“Good roads should not only be for visiting heads of states attending the summits,” he said, adding that ordinary citizens also “deserve better roads, not the potholes that we see everywhere”. 

“Ugandans must rise up and demand better services however much the desperate regime of Mr. Museveni uses the iron hand to coerce us into submission.” 

Both Besigye and Wine have been arrested numerous times in the past.

In October, Wine said he had been placed under house arrest after being seized by security agents on his return from a trip abroad.

Police at the time denied Wine had been arrested, saying they had merely “escorted” the 41-year-old from Entebbe International Airport to his home.

The East African nation is hosting the NAM summit until January 20, with heads of state expected to meet on Friday.

It is due to be followed, from Sunday to Tuesday, by a gathering of the influential G77+China group, which represents 134 developing countries.

AFP
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