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Bobi Wine: Uganda’s pop star MP arrives in US for treatment

Ugandan pop star and MP Bobi Wine has arrived in the US for medical treatment following accusations he was tortured and beaten while in military custody.

Bobi Wine, seen here prior to his departure from Uganda, says he was tortured

The former rapper was initially prevented from leaving the country but was cleared to fly out on Friday.

He, and 32 opposition politicians, were charged with treason last week over the alleged stoning of President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy.

Bobi Wine was later granted bail. The army denies allegations of torture.

On Friday, police confirmed that Bobi Wine had been cleared to fly out of the country for specialised treatment after the government sent a team of nine doctors to examine him.

His lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, said the pop star had also been violently re-arrested at the airport on Thursday “even though the judge had let him have his passport because he needed to leave the country for medical reasons”.

A police spokesman had confirmed on Twitter that Bobi Wine was being given a medical examination because of the allegations of torture.

Police said that another opposition MP, Francis Zaake, who was also trying to go abroad for treatment, had been “trying to flee the country and accordingly apprehended him”.

On Friday, supporters of Bobi Wine held protests in the capital, Kampala.

Pictures shared on social media showed plumes of smoke rising in the streets, with local media reporting that the protests were confined to Kamwokya slum, where the MP grew up.

Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, appeared on crutches during a court appearance. His allies say he was tortured by elite presidential guards during his detention.

His aides say he was later re-arrested at Uganda’s main international airport where he was planning to board a plane to Washington for further medical treatment.

“He’s in tremendous pain and suffered very serious injuries,” Mr Amsterdam had said of the star’s condition. “There’s not a part of his body that isn’t in pain.”

“His children were going to stay in Uganda. It was a brief trip, simply for a medical evaluation,” he added.

What led to the treason charges?

Before being arrested, Bobi Wine tweeted a gruesome picture of his driver, who he said had been shot dead by police thinking he was the MP.

Bobi Wine was arrested on 13 August after a campaign rally in the north-western town of Arua where the presidential convoy was allegedly stoned.Bobi Wine’s supporters protested in Kampala last week

The 36-year-old musician was initially to be tried in a military court over accusations of unlawful possession of firearms but the charge was dropped. A civilian court later charged him with treason.

Bobi Wine, and the other accused, were expected to appear in court again on Thursday but the hearing has been adjourned to 1 October.

Who is Bobi Wine?

The Afrobeats star has been a thorn in the side of Mr Museveni’s government. Since his election as an MP just over a year ago, he has backed candidates in three by-elections who have beaten those from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), including in Arua.

He was also a leading campaigner against the move to scrap the presidential age limit – set at 75 – which would have locked out the 74-year-old Mr Museveni’s bid to run for a sixth term in 2021.

Wine also joined local activists in July to protest against a social media tax introduced ostensibly to boost state revenue and to end what Mr Museveni called “gossip” on WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.

Critics, however, said the 200 Uganda shillings ($0.05, £0.04) daily tax was meant to suppress dissenting voices. The government has since said it will review the tax. BBC.