Uganda: withdrawal of armed forces surrounding Bobi Wine’s house

The Ugandan armed forces withdrew from the vicinity of Bobi Wine’s house on Tuesday, the day after a court ruling ordering the end of the opponent’s house arrest.

Mr Wine, real name Robert Kyagulanyi, had been stuck at home since the January 14 presidential election, when the former ragga singer-turned-MP has been the main opponent of outgoing President Yoweri Museveni.

The latter won the ballot with 58.6% of the vote according to the official results, which Mr Wine (around 35%) rejected.

For 11 days, heavily armed soldiers and police had surrounded the house, preventing its residents, including Mr. Wine’s wife, Barbie Kyagulanyi, from getting out. They could not receive visitors either.

On Monday, the armed forces had not budged, despite a court ruling the same day qualifying this assignment as “illegal”.

On Tuesday, the troops finally withdrew from the vicinity of the residence, located on the outskirts of Kampala, notably allowing Mr. Wine to meet for the first time since the polls newly elected parliamentarians under the banner of his party, the Platform of national unity (NUP).

“I was illegally detained in my own house because General Museveni did not win,” he told these elected officials as well as supporters, NUP members and journalists, gathered in his garden .

“He is carrying out a coup against the will of the people of Uganda,” he added.

The government had justified this house arrest by the need to ensure “the protection” of Mr. Wine and to avoid the demonstrations of the opposition, the candidate having qualified the election of “masquerade”.

He did not call on his supporters to demonstrate but told Mr. Museveni, in power since 1986, that other long-time African leaders, such as Hosni Mubarak and Omar al-Bashir, had been driven out by popular uprisings.

“We want Museveni to step down within a year,” Wine said, without giving further details.

The presidential and legislative elections of January 14 followed a particularly violent electoral campaign, marked by repression against critics of the regime and opponents of Mr. Museveni, starting with Mr. Wine.

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