Bobi Wine arrested during protest over missing supporters

Monday March 15 2021
Bobi Wine and his supporters

Ugandan musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine (C), greets supporters as he sets off on his campaign trail towards eastern Uganda, near Kayunga, on December 1, 2020. PHOTO | AFP


Ugandan politician Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has been arrested while leading a peaceful demonstration demanding the release of hundreds of his supporters who went missing after they were arrested during and after the January 14 election.

The runner-up in the presidential poll, which saw Yoweri Museveni re-elected, was on Monday intercepted by police at City Square in Kampala.

He was leading a group of his supporters and MPs-elect in demanding the freedom of his supporters, most of whom he says were kidnapped and tortured by security operatives.

"Bobi Wine [was] arrested as he led MPs and other leaders in a peaceful protest against the abduction, torture and murder of his supporters. The protest was taking place at City Square, Kampala," his social media handler posted. 

They were taken to Kampala Central Police Station.

Bobi Wine supporters

Supporters of Uganda opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, and local and foreign journalists are assaulted by Uganda Military Police outside the UN Human Rights offices on February 17, 2021. PHOTO | AFP


Museveni's warning

The arrest comes hours after Mr Museveni, in his televised address Sunday night, warned Wine and members of his National Unity Platform (NUP) against causing chaos ahead of his swearing ceremony in May.

"They have been planning to stop the swearing-in of the President. They won't. They plan all sorts of crazy things, including killing their own opposition people, [in order] to say it is the government,” the President said.

The veteran leader accused NUP of rigging elections just days after he said the poll was the “most cheating-free in the history of Uganda”, while giving his victory speech hours after the EC declared him winner on January 16.

“This group of Kyagulanyi cheated massively in elections. They rigged and did ballot stuffing, helped by the weak organisation of the (ruling) NRM party, corrupt people in EC and police. Those who helped them in the police service abused their trust and are a disgrace,” Mr Museveni said.

Bobi Wine arrives to vote

Residents react as musician-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi (not visible), also known as Bobi Wine, arrives at a polling station to vote in Magere, Uganda, on January 14, 2021. PHOTO | AFP

Ministry's accusation

Although Wine insists his call is for peaceful protests, Security Minister Elly Tumwine recently said that the Kyadondo East MP and his supporters are using the protest as a scapegoat to cause chaos and violence.

“They are using the words 'peaceful demonstrations' as a cover-up. Leaflets with hate speech are being dumped and lethal weapons such as knives, machetes have been withdrawn from some protesters," he claimed.

In his online address on the night of March 14, days after Mr Tumwine's accusation, however, Wine said, "We're tired, hungry, angry and oppressed, but we still have brains and are non-violent. We chose not to use violence and we are innocent. They cannot outnumber us."

"I ask you to demonstrate peacefully," the NUP leader told his supporters.