Down but not out. Bobi Wine in an ambulance soon after being granted bail.
Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni has blinked.
On Monday the courts in Uganda granted bail to Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a, Bobi Wine, the popular Ugandan lawmaker and several others. Their plight has sparked protests around the world. They were violently arrested while campaigning for an opposition candidate for Parliament who later defeated a candidate supported by the U.S.-backed dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni.
Many of them were reportedly tortured.
Bobi Wine first gained fame as an Afrobeat musician. That’s why it was no surprise when last week global celebrities signed a letter demanding his immediate release. The names on the letter included musicians like Angelique Kidjo, Peter Gabriel, Chris Martin, Seun Kuti, Femi Kuti; and the Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, and many others.
In addition to street protests in Uganda –violently suppressed by the military which did not even spare journalists from the baton– there were demonstrations in: the United States, Canada, the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, and elsewhere in Europe. There were protests in South Africa and in Kenya as well.
Some of the sharpest denunciations of dictator Museveni came from Kenya. A young Member of Parliament, Babu Owino, vowed to lead a delegation of Kenyan lawmakers to protest inside Uganda unless Bobi Wine was released within a week.
Meanwhile, lawmakers from Kenya’s coastal region even wondered why Kenya shouldn’t rule out military action against Museveni given the fact that their country had a record of intervening in places like Somalia. Even the United States, which is the number one sponsor of the dictator –with over $1 billion annually in financial and military support– released a statement referring to respecting the constitution and allowing the detainees access to medical care. The statement did make some nonsensical comment about allowing a transparent trial. (How can a trial on concocted charges be “transparent”?)
The dictator has blinked and so the pressure must continue. Ugandans here in the U.S. plan campaigns to pressure the U.S. into stopping military support for dictator Museveni.
The current crises started on August 13 when Bobi Wine and other politicians campaigning in the city of Arua on behalf of a candidate named Kasiano Wadri were violently arrested. Dictator Museveni was also in Arua on that day campaigning for his own candidate Nasuru Teperu. Bobi Wine had already used his Midas Touch in two previous by-elections for Parliamentary seats. Both candidates he’d endorsed had won. In Arua, Wadri was drawing huge crowds thanks to Bobi Wine and the other opposition politicians supporting him: Michael Mabikke, a former Member of Parliament, and three current Members of Parliament –Gerald Karuhanga, Francis Zaake, and Paul Mwiru.
Museveni knew he and his candidate Teperu were heading for a humiliating defeat. Museveni had traveled all the way to Arua to lend his alleged prestige –this notion resides only in his mind– to his party’s candidate. After 32 years the people of Arua were about to use the Parliamentary by-election to show the dictator how they felt about him. It was a proxy referendum. So Museveni did what he does best; he unleashed violence, hoping to disrupt the election.
Commandos from Museveni’s Special Forces Command, which reports to his son, Gen. Muhoozi Kaenerugaba, a presidential advisor, shot and killed someone seated in the front passenger’s seat of Bobi Wine’s car in Arua. Bobi Wine later tweeted a photograph of a blood-soaked body slumped on the seats. It was Yasin Kawuma, his driver. In his tweet Bobi Wine said the Museveni forces killed Kawuma thinking they had shot him.
Bobi Wine himself was later violently arrested. Later, when his wife Barbie visited him in military custody together with lawyers, he told her he was punched, kicked and beaten with an iron bar until he lost consciousness. Wadri himself was also arrested on August 13. But if the dictator thought that brutal display would halt the momentum, he was in for more humiliation. On August 15 when the vote was held, Wadri, while imprisoned beat Museveni’s candidate by 11 points, 38% to 27%.
Zaake, Mwiru and Karuhanga were also beaten and arrested. Zaake was so viciously assaulted that the army realized he would die while in their custody. So, mafia-style, he was dumped, barely conscious in front of a hospital. He has since been on-and-off life support.
What was the official reason for the arrest? Dictator Museveni claimed the politicians had incited their supporters into throwing stones at the presidential motorcade and that the rear window of one car had been shattered. According to Museveni, this amounted to an assassination attempt.
That is the best attempt people could come up with if they really wanted to get him? Most Ugandans have dismissed the claim as hogwosh. In any case none of the arrested politicians were close to the presidential motorcade at the time of the alleged incident.
In truth, Bobi Wine became a marked man when he produced the daring song “Freedom” a scathing indictment of Museveni’s 32 years tyranny. A college professor sent the link to The Black Star News and said Bobi Wine would either end up being president or being killed by Museveni after he saw the video.
When lawyers and Barbie first visited Bobi Wine they reported that he could barely speak, that he could not walk, and that he had to be carried to the toilet. During a court appearance on last Friday –as protests continued around the world– even with the use of a cane, he still had to be assisted by supporters and prison officials. Meanwhile the dictator issued a statement Donald Trump-style, claiming any report that Bobi Wine had suffered serious injuries was “fake news.”
The bail granted to the arrested politicians and their supporters is only the first step. The bogus treason charges must be dismissed.
Now that Ugandans have seen the power of unity in resisting the country’s tyrant of 32 years they must continue their demands for a new dispensation in the country just as other Africans have done, with Ethiopia being the most exemplary case under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Petition Demanding end to U.S. support to dictator Museveni.