Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine's campaign staff held in barracks ahead of election - lawyer

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • Dozens of campaign staff working for Bobi Wine are being held in military barracks after authorities refused to release them.
  • Wine is Uganda's leading opposition candidate in the upcoming presidential election, scheduled for 14 January.
  • President Yoweri Museveni, in office since 1986, is accused of using coronavirus restrictions as a pretext to violate rights and crack down on opposition and media.

KAMPALA – Dozens of campaign staff working for Bobi Wine, Uganda's leading opposition candidate in next week's presidential election, are being held in a military barracks after authorities defied court orders to release them, Wine's lawyer said on Friday.

Singer-turned-lawmaker Wine, 38, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has been arrested multiple times while campaigning ahead of the 14 January vote for breaking laws governing public order and Covid-19 restrictions on large gatherings.

Wine is considered to be the leading challenger to President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in office since 1986.

On 30 December, 118 Wine supporters and staff were arrested in the town of Kalangala on Bugala Island in Lake Victoria, where they had travelled to campaign, Wine's lawyer George Musisi told Reuters.

A court in Masaka, about 120km southwest of the capital Kampala, ordered their release on Monday, but Uganda's prisons service refused to comply, Musisi told Reuters.

After obtaining more court release documents on Thursday, 46 people, mostly supporters, were freed while 72, mainly campaign staff, were taken to Makindye military barracks on the outskirts of Kampala, he said.

Allegations of torture

Military spokesperson Flavia Byekwaso told Reuters she needed time to study the situation before responding.

Prisons service spokesperson Frank Baine did not answer a phone call to request comment.

Wine's lawyer said they were preparing another court application for their release. He said the people freed on Thursday said they had been tortured.

Human Rights Watch, a watchdog based in New York, said in November that Museveni's government was using coronavirus restrictions as a pretext to violate rights and crack down on the opposition and the media.

Wine's rallies are usually broken up by the security forces.

In November, 54 people were killed as security forces battled to quell protests after Wine had been detained.

Did you know you can comment on this article? Subscribe to News24 and add your voice to the conversation.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
As a child or as an adult, have you ever been a victim of bullying?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, at school
55% - 64 votes
Yes, at work
20% - 23 votes
No, I've never experienced this
25% - 29 votes
Vote
USD/ZAR
14.31
(+0.7)
GBP/ZAR
19.82
(+1.5)
EUR/ZAR
17.15
(+1.2)
AUD/ZAR
11.07
(+0.8)
JPY/ZAR
0.13
(+1.0)
Gold
1,776.77
(+0.8)
Silver
25.96
(+0.4)
Platinum
1,204.50
(+0.6)
Brent Crude
66.94
(+0.5)
Palladium
2,781.00
(+1.3)
All Share
68,699
(+1.3)
Top 40
62,898
(+1.3)
Financial 15
12,446
(+0.8)
Industrial 25
89,364
(+0.8)
Resource 10
70,350
(+2.2)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo