Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine said on Thursday (October 5) that he has been placed under house arrest after being detained by security officials upon returning home from a trip abroad.
Wine flew in from South Africa via the Rwandan capital, Kigali, after a tour to promote a documentary about him by National Geographic TV called ‘Bobi Wine: The People’s President’.
“As soon as I landed, goons grabbed me, dragged me, twisted my hands and bundled me into a waiting private car,” the popstar-turned-politician told journalists, as quoted by AFP.
“They drove me to the old airport where they pulled me out and put me in a military car with many soldiers and police officers. It was very humiliating,” added Wine, who ran against veteran President Yoweri Museveni in Uganda’s last election in 2021.
Police denied that he had been “arrested”, saying they had “escorted” the 41-year-old from Uganda's Entebbe International Airport to his home. “Disregard rumours of his arrest by propagandists,” the police said via X (formerly Twitter).
However, a video posted by Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) showed him being grabbed by security agents as soon as he stepped off the plane.
His supporters had planned to accompany him en masse to his home, but police had said such a gathering was illegal, according to AFP.
Ugandan authorities have a long history of using so-called preventative arrest to detain opposition leaders, often holding them for hours to stymie mass demonstrations.
Last month, Ugandan police announced they were banning rallies being organised by the NUP across the country, citing public order issues.
The return of Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was eagerly anticipated by his supporters, many of whom view him as a symbol of change in a country ruled for decades by one man.
Ugandan soldiers and other security forces had been deployed on roads leading to Entebbe airport since early Thursday morning, as well as outside NUP offices and in Kampala’s central business district, according to AFP.
Wine was President Yoweri Museveni’s main rival in the 2021 presidential election in which the Ugandan head of state, who has been in power since 1986, was re-elected for a sixth term with 58% of the vote. Wine came in second, garnering 35% of the vote.
The intensive violence around the 2021 election was particularly targeted at Wine, who was not only physically tortured and harassed but also barred from campaigning in eastern Uganda. He had earlier in 2018 survived an assassination when his driver was killed.
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