Bobi Wine, Zaake blocked from leaving Uganda for treatment

Friday August 31 2018

By The EastAfrican
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Ugandan independent MP Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, and Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake were Thursday blocked from leaving the country to seek medical care abroad.

Mr Kyagulanyi was blocked at the airport by security forces on Thursday evening while Mr Zaake, who has been bedridden, was arrested when he reached Entebbe Airport on the same day.

The Kyadondo East MP was denied access to the airport grounds and ordered to wait for further instructions near the gate.

According to his lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo, Mr Kyagulanyi was forced into a waiting ambulance by the police and driven off.

Mr Kyagulanyi’s wife, Barbara, reported in a social media post that security forces had manhandled her husband and whisked him away from Entebbe Airport.

“He groaned in pain as he called out my name. They forced him into an ambulance and drove out of the airport,” wrote Mrs Kyagulanyi.

Escape

Earlier, Mr Kyagulanyi's colleague, Francis Zaake, was also blocked from flying to India for treatment and arrested.

Police said the Mityana Municipality MP needed to get clearance from the director of criminal investigations.

In a statement, the police accused Mr Zaake of attempting to flee the country.

Mr Zaake was injured during the chaotic arrest on August 13 in northwestern Arua town along with other MPs and their supporters.

He was evacuated to hospital in Arua and later transferred to privately-owned Lubaga hospital in the capital Kampala.

Police, however, claimed he escaped custody in Arua.

Mr Emilian Kayima, the police spokesman, said that when they "discovered" he was at Lubaga they went to the hospital in order to transfer him to Mulago Hospital so that government doctors can examine him but the staff in Lubaga declined to hand him over.

"This morning (Thursday) police found Hon Zaake at Entebbe International Airport trying to flee the country and accordingly apprehended him. He will be taken to Mulago Hospital for examination and or further management while under police custody as earlier intended. He will be produced before court at an appropriate time," a police statement read.

Authorities confiscated his passport and boarding pass and those of his wife Bridget Namirembe, who was accompanying him.

Persecution

Mr Zaake was brought to the airport at 11.40am. He was to board an Ethiopian Airlines plane but by 5pm he had missed three flights, two being at 1.30pm and 3.35pm.

The frail MP accused the state of persecution.

“They tortured me to cover up the killing of Yasin Kawuma and retaliate on what looked to them as a loss of polls,” he said.

Yasin Kawuma was Bobi Wine's driver who was shot dead in Arua during the violence.

“Could it be that they want me dead? Going to Mulago Hospital will be by force. It’s not my conscience, I would rather die here from the airport," he said.

Permit

Daily Monitor reported that government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, said the lawmakers -- Mr Kyagulanyi and Mr Zaake -- will be allowed to proceed abroad for further treatment after they have been examined by government doctors to ascertain their condition.

Both MPs are currently admitted at Kiruddu General Hospital.

Mr Kyagulanyi was first arrested in the northwestern town of Arua on August 13 where he was campaigning for an independent-opposition leaning candidate, who won in a hard-fought by-election that also drew President Yoweri Museveni in support of the ruling party candidate.

The MPs along with 11 others are facing treason charges and were granted bail on Monday.

The case resumes on October 1.