Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Ugandan opposition candidate Bobi Wine says soldiers raided his home ahead of election day race with Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan opposition candidate Bobi Wine says soldiers raided his home ahead of election day race with Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine says soldiers have raided his home and arrested his guards two days before national elections.

The atmosphere in the capital of Kampala is increasingly charged as the vote pits the singer-turned-politician against one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, President Yoweri Museveni.

At least 54 people were killed in Kampala and other parts of the country in November as security forces put down riots provoked by the arrest of Wine for allegedly violating campaign regulations aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

The military is in charge of all security operations in the Kampala metropolitan area but Mr Wine, who insisted his campaign is nonviolent, has urged his supporters not to be intimidated by the forces.

Mr Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, said the raid on his compound and the arrest of his guards happened while he was doing an interview with a Kenyan radio station.

Mr Wine also said a team member who works mainly as a mechanic was shot dead by the military overnight.

Reuters was not immediately able to verify the claim and a military spokesman did not respond to a call seeking comment.

Patrick Onyango, police spokesman, denied Mr Wine’s home had been raided or that anyone was arrested.

“We were just rearranging our security posture in the area near his home, specifically removing some checkpoints,” Mr Onyango said.


Campaigning ahead of the election has been marred by crackdowns on opposition rallies, which the authorities say break COVID-19 rules on large gatherings.

Rights groups say the restrictions are a pretext for muzzling the opposition.

At 38, Mr Wine is half the age of President Yoweri Museveni and has attracted a large following among young people in a nation where 80 per cent of the population are under 30.

He is considered the frontrunner among 10 candidates challenging the former guerrilla leader, who seized power in 1986.

‘Protect the vote’

Mr Museveni, 76, has won every election since the first under his presidency in 1996, though they have been tarnished by intimidation of the opposition and accusations of vote rigging.

Uganda is a Western ally, a prospective oil producer and is considered a stabilising force in a region where war has plagued some neighbours.

It also contributes the biggest contingent of an African Union force fighting Islamist insurgents in Somalia.

Uganda’s leader Yoweri Museveni, 76, has won every election since the first under his presidency in 1996. Although there have been accusations of vote rigging.

While Mr Museveni was welcomed for bringing stability after the brutal reigns of two dictators, opponents say his government has become riddled with corruption and nepotism.

The European Union is not deploying election observers as advice from previous observers about how to make the polls fair went unheeded, the EU ambassador to Uganda said.

The African Union will deploy observers.

Many people have reported being unable to access Facebook and WhatsApp. During the 2016 election, both social media networks were shut off for days around the vote.

Uganda Communications Commission spokesman Ibrahim Bbossa and a spokeswoman for Facebook in Nairobi did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Mr Wine and his supporters have been using Facebook to relay live coverage of his campaigns and news conferences after he said many media outlets had declined to host him.

Most radio and TV stations are owned by government allies while the country’s leading daily is state-run.

Mr Museveni and his supporters have also been using Facebook, though the US media giant said on Monday it had taken down a network linked to the ministry of information for posting from fake and duplicate accounts.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Mr Wine and two other opposition candidates — Patrick Amuriat and Mugisha Muntu — urged Ugandans to turn out and “protect their vote” by staying at polling stations to observe counting.


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