Uganda: Military Traps Opposition Candidate in Home After Dictator Declares Victory

Ugandan soldiers patrol near the street leading to the house of Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, in Magere, Uganda, on January 18, 2021. (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP) (Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images)
YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images

Ugandan soldiers have “surrounded” the home of opposition leader Bobi Wine, who wrote on Twitter on Monday that he and his wife are being held “captive” inside their house.

The military action followed a rigorous presidential campaign by Wine against 35-year dictator Yoweri Museveni, who has since declared victory amid widespread accusations of election irregularities such as the theft of boxes full of voter ballots.

“This afternoon, the U.S. Ambassador to Uganda made an effort to visit me but was turned away from my gate by the soldiers who have held me and my wife captive for the past five days,” Wine, a Ugandan legislator, wrote in a social media post on January 18. Wine’s home is located in Magere, a town situated six miles north of the national capital, Kampala.

“I am under military siege. My home is surrounded. The soldiers have jumped over the fence. They attacked my guard and made him roll in the mud,” Wine told Ugandan newspaper the Daily Monitor on January 15.

“When I tried to ask why they have done this, they said I should ask the spokesperson of the military. They are not talking to us,” he told the newspaper.

Uganda’s deputy army spokesman, Deo Akiiki, told the Daily Monitor that soldiers had surrounded Wine’s home for his own protection.

“Candidates are special people. We are protecting him and cannot let random people access his premises,” Akiiki said, referring to Wine’s participation in Uganda’s January 14 general election.

Wine had attempted to oust Museveni in Uganda’s election last week. While he lead his opposition party, the National Unity Platform (NUP), to a sweeping victory in Uganda’s parliament, Wine lost to Museveni in the presidential race, according to the Ugandan state Electoral Commission (EC) over the weekend.

“On Saturday, the Electoral Commission chairman Simon Mugenyi Byabakama declared incumbent President Museveni the winner of the January 14 election with 58.64 percent of the votes cast, while main opposition candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine was trailing with 34.83 percent,” the East African reported on Monday.

Wine and the NUP have disputed the official election results, citing reports of voting irregularities including alleged “pre-ticked ballot papers that were stuffed into ballot boxes,” according to the regional newspaper.

“We reject these results because we have seen the rigging pattern even from the time we were campaigning,” Wine told Ugandan media on January 15, as reported by the Daily Monitor.

“The EC has concentrated on reading results from districts that they can easily rig. They are not announcing results from districts of the central region and the eastern where we have overwhelming support. We believe we have a comfortable win over Museveni in this election,” he added.

The chairman of Uganda’s state Electoral Commission, Simon Byabakama, responded to Wine’s allegations on Friday.

“In law we say the burden is on he who asserts to establish the facts, so the onus is on the Honourable Kyagulanyi to prove (the allegations),” Byabakama said.

Ugandan security forces arrested Wine, 38, several times over the past few years as he mounted a youthful opposition movement to depose Museveni, 76, from the office of the presidency. Museveni assumed the office in 1986 and has retained the position ever since. State security forces increasingly harassed Wine in the lead-up to the January 14 presidential election, arresting him as he campaigned.

The singer-turned-legislator wrote on Twitter on January 11 that Ugandan army soldiers had “raided” his home and arrested his personal security guards while he conducted a live radio interview to promote his presidential campaign.

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