Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine said Tuesday that police had assaulted his party members and put him under house arrest to prevent him from attending a campaign rally for a local by-election.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said police and military officers, deployed overnight, had barred him from leaving his home in Magere, north of the capital Kampala, to campaign for an opposition candidate in the central district of Kayunga.
“The military has increased deployment around my home. No one is allowed to leave or enter,” Wine said on Twitter, accusing President Yoweri Museveni of placing him “under house arrest”.
“Our security guard and gardener have been violently arrested and beaten,” Wine said, adding that they had been “bundled” into a police vehicle outside his gate and their phones confiscated.
The popstar-turned-politician came second in a tense January election that returned Museveni to power for a sixth term.
On Tuesday, Wine accused the police of assaulting “several” members of his National Unity Platform party (NUP) at Kayunga — once a ruling party stronghold — where Museveni also held a rally.
One youth leader was taken to hospital after violence erupted, he said.
“The most critical question to #DictatorMuseveni — if you fear elections, why organise them?” Wine said on Twitter.
Police commissioner Dennis Namuwoza had earlier warned that processions to Kayunga would be blocked, saying they were against Covid-19 protocols.
“There will be no blocking of roads and there will be no ferrying goons from other areas to Kayunga… When he (Bobi Wine) goes off the guidelines, we shall manage him,” local media outlet Daily Monitor quoted him as saying Monday.
– Abductions and torture –
Following the January vote, which was marked by a crackdown on opposition figures, soldiers and police surrounded Wine’s property, stopping members of his household from leaving.
A court ordered his release after 11 days.
The NUP has alleged that hundreds of his supporters were abducted by security forces in the run-up to the election — some were killed while others re-emerged weeks later showing signs of torture.
Last week, two members of the armed forces were handed lengthy jail terms for their part in violence against protesters last year that left more than 50 dead.
Days earlier, the United States had announced sanctions against Uganda’s military intelligence chief Major General Abel Kandiho, citing his involvement in serious human rights abuses including beatings, sexual assault and electrocution.
In March, Wine was arrested for leading a protest in Kampala demanding the release of his supporters.
Museveni has ruled Uganda since seizing control in 1986, when he helped to end years of tyranny under Amin and Milton Obote.
Once hailed for his commitment to good governance, the former rebel leader has crushed any opposition and tweaked the constitution to allow himself to run again and again. AFP