Uganda police deny Bobi Wine arrest, say he was just ‘taken home’


A police armored personnel career stands guard at the Kasangati Police station where legislator Robert ...
A police armored personnel career stands guard at the Kasangati Police station where legislator Robert Kyagulanyi is being held on arrival from the United States. (H. Athumani/VOA)

In Summary

  • Security forces had deployed around Entebbe International Airport and the highway linking it to the capital Kampala ahead of his arrival.
  • The Daily Monitor newspaper reported that police arrested him on the tarmac after he disembarked.
  • However, a police official said he was being escorted to his home but he was not under arrest.

Police whisked away Uganda opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine on Thursday as he got off a plane at the country’s main airport.

However, an official denied that he was under arrest as police later released a statement on the same.

“Today Thursday September 20, 2018 Robert Kyagulanyi returned to the country and was peacefully escorted by the police to his residence in Magele, Wakiso District.

“We wish to thank him for cooperating with the police at Entebbe International Airport,” the statement from Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesman Emilian Kamila reads.

The statement posted on the NTV Uganda Twitter page also rubbished earlier reports that some media personalities had been arrested.

They were apparently questioned and are not in police custody.

“All are free and going about their lawful business normally. We urge all people to remain calm. Equally we call upon the Hon. MP to fully comply with the laws of the land and terms of his bail conditions,” the police statement adds.

 

Bobi Wine, a prominent challenger to long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni, had been in the United States to receive treatment for injuries he said were sustained during torture by security forces.

Security forces had deployed around Entebbe International Airport and the highway linking it to the capital Kampala ahead of his arrival to prevent supporters from greeting him.

The Daily Monitor newspaper reported that police arrested him on the tarmac after he disembarked.

However, a police official said he was being escorted to his home but he was not under arrest.

The official, who was not authorised to speak on the record, told Reuters that Bobi Wine was “just being taken home”.

The 36-year old pop star and reggae musician turned legislator is widely seen as posing a significant challenge to Museveni, who has ruled since 1986.

His message – that young Ugandans need a dynamic new head of state to tackle the myriad problems they face – has electrified citizens who say they are fed up with corruption, unemployment, and state repression of dissent.

The government denies allegations of corruption and of stifling opposition.

Kyagulanyi attracted a youth following through songs critical of Museveni and his prominence rose due to an incident in August in which his driver was shot dead and he was detained and charged with treason over what authorities said was the stoning of the president’s convoy.

The politician, who has pleaded not guilty to the treason charges, said he was beaten with an iron bar in detention in northern Uganda. The government denies that he was mistreated.

Police banned rallies to welcome Kyagulanyi home, and security forces sealed off roads and erected barricades around Entebbe ahead of his return.

Witnesses said the road linking Kampala to Entebbe town about 50 km (30 miles) to the south was cordoned off, with armed police surrounding the airport.

They also said that all vehicles leaving Kampala on the road to Entebbe were checked at multiple roadblocks. Police prevented journalists from traveling to the airport to cover the arrival.

Additional reporting by Rachel Ombaka

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