Uganda opposition leader arrested in anti-Museveni protest

Kampala, March 15 (AFP/APP): Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine was arrested on Monday as he took part in a protest in the capital, according to a post on his Twitter page.

The 39-year-old popstar-turned-presidential contender last week had called on Ugandans to “rise up peacefully and unarmed” against President Yoweri Museveni who won a sixth term in office following disputed elections in January. “Bobi Wine arrested as he led MPs and other leaders in a peaceful protest against the abduction, torture and murder of his supporters,” said the post, written by an account administrator.

Around 15 MPs and activists from Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) political party, wearing business suits and red ties, took part in the brief protest which was quickly halted by police officers and soldiers. Bystanders cheered their support for the small group of protesters but did not join the demonstration itself.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was first taken to a police station before being driven in a police vehicle to his home outside Kampala which is “now surrounded by police and the military,” his Twitter account said.

Following the January 14 election, Wine was held under effective house arrest for 11 days until a court ordered his release. Demonstrations against Wine’s arrest in November during the campaign for the poll were brutally dispersed and at least 54 people died.

The police pre-emptively declared Wine’s latest call for protests illegal and warned “organisers… to desist from participating in any unlawful activities”. Wine was demanding the release of hundreds of his supporters he alleges have been abducted by security forces since the start of the presidential election campaign late last year.

On Thursday Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for an end to what it called “ongoing abductions by suspected state agents and cease the unlawful detention without trial of opposition supporters”. Museveni and his ministers have admitted that hundreds of Ugandans are in military detention but say they will either face a military tribunal or be released.

In a television address on Sunday night Museveni referred to people who had been abducted as “children”, described their actions as criminal and accused them of attacking government supporters.

“The children who were arrested by the security forces, many of them have been talked to and they have given us a lot of information and we have helped them to go back to their families,” he said.

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