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Ugandan Court Orders Freedom of Opposition Leader Bobi Wine

A court in Uganda has ordered security forces to cease surrounding the home of opposition leader Bobi Wine, whose house arrest since a mid-month presidential election has drawn international pressure, his lawyer said on Monday.

Ugandan Court Orders Freedom of Opposition Leader Bobi Wine
Ugandan Court Orders Freedom of Opposition Leader Bobi Wine

Uganda’s Electoral Commission said the vote was peaceful, but the EU, UN, and several human rights groups have raised concerns. Aside from an African Union mission, no major international group monitored the vote.

Troops have blocked the 38-year-old pop star-turned-politician from leaving his house in a suburb of the capital Kampala since he voted in the Jan. 14 election where he ran against long-serving incumbent President Museveni.

Museveni, 76, who has been in power since 1986, was declared winner of the poll with 59% of votes versus 35% for Wine, who had for years denounced corruption and nepotism in his songs. He rejected the result, alleging fraud which the government denies. Wine insists he won and has said he can prove that the military was stuffing ballot boxes, casting ballots for people and chasing voters away from polling stations.

Wine has accused Museveni of staging a coup in last week’s election and is urging his supporters to protest against his loss through nonviolent means.

Wine had channelled the anger of many young Ugandans who view former guerrilla leader Museveni as an out-of-touch autocrat repressing dissenters and failing to create jobs.

“The Ugandan government continues to use state security in a partisan manner to harass and intimidate its citizens, press, and political opposition,” tweeted U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Sunday. “Mr. Museveni’s tactics towards those who advocate for an inclusive democracy is dangerous and must be addressed by the global community.”

Uganda’s military was aware of the court ruling and would comply, said military spokeswoman Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso, without specifying when soldiers would depart.

Barricades are still up.

Uganda’s election was marred by violence in the run-up to polling day as well as an internet shutdown that remained in force until four days after the election. Social media sites remain restricted.

There has never been a peaceful transfer of power in Uganda – one reason why even some within the ruling party publicly urge Museveni to preside over an orderly transition.

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