Uganda

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine freed after 11 days of house arrest

Opposition presidential challenger Bobi Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, outside his house near Kampala, in Uganda Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021.
Opposition presidential challenger Bobi Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, outside his house near Kampala, in Uganda Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021. AP - Nicholas Bamulanzeki
3 min

Following an order from the Ugandan High Court on Monday that security forces withdraw from the area surrounding the Kampala residence of presidential candidate Bobi Wine, it appears that the singer and opposition politician is now free to receive visitors and leave his home for the first time since presidential elections on 14 January.

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Incumbent president Yoweri Museveni won the elections, officially with 58 percent of the vote, thus earning a sixth term as president.

Bobi Wine, who was Museveni's main challenger, has rejected the outcome, claiming fraud and intimidation. He has until 2 February to make a formal appeal against the result, but has been unable to meet with supporters and advisors because of his effective house arrest.

Among the first visitors to Wine's home after the departure of troops and police were several dozen of the recently-elected MPs from the National Unity Platform, Bobi Wine's political grouping.

Issuing the order for the security cordon to be withdrawn, the High Court judge Michael Elubu said that, if the government had evidence against Wine, he should face trial before a court, but not be held prisoner in his own home.

The US Ambassador to Uganda, Natalie Brown, was among those who welcomed the court decision, saying that "freedom of expression, assembly and movement" were vital to any democratic society.

Ambassador Brown was among those prevented by security forces from visiting Wine at his home earlier this month.

The National Unity Platform says it has evidence of widespread irregularities in the poll. Museveni has praised the election as the most open and honest of Uganda's post-colonial history.

Bobi Wine has refused to recognise Museveni's victory, and has encouraged "the people of Uganda to use all legal and non-violent means and ideas that they have to free themselves from the Museveni dictatorship".

Army units continue to maintain roadblocks in the area around Wine's home, with police helicopters frequently hovering near the house.

 

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