Opposition leaders in Uganda have come out to condemn the latest arrest of singer and opposition politician, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine.
Bobi Wine was arrested on Monday and remanded to Luzira maximum prison after court charged him with disobedience of statutory duty.
The charge is related to a protest that Bobi Wine led in July 2018 challenging the taxes on social media and mobile money which government had introduced at the time.
The singer together with some other people including musician A Pass as well as journalists Raymond Mujuni, Joel Ssenyonyi and others held a demonstration in the city centre but would later be intercepted by Police which fired teargas and bullets to disperse a crowd that had joined the protest.
Bobi Wine said the taxes were unfair and unnecessary.
The group is accused of disobeying sections 5 and 10 of the Public Order Management Act 2013 by holding a public meeting without giving notice to any authorised officer, holding a public meeting a public meeting without adhering to the required criteria and refusing to coordinate and cooperate with Police to ensure that all participants are unarmed and peaceful.
Former FDC President also four-time Presidential candidate, Kizza Besigye described Monday’s arrest of the Kyadondo East legislator as persecution by President Yoweri Museveni’s “junta”.
“As we were facing blatant injustice in Kasese, my brother @HEBobiwine was again facing NRM/M7 Junta persecution,” Besigye wrote on Twitter.
In Kasese district, Besigye together with FDC President, Patrick Amuriat had planned a political rally on Monday but this was blocked by Police.
Besigye said the arrest of Bobi Wine is part of the attempt by the government “to break an activist’s spirit”.
But “they (government) don’t know that it’s the fire that hardens an activist”, he said.
He encouraged Wine whom he labeled “brother” to be strong adding “we shall overcome”.
Bobi Wine, 36, who has expressed interest in contesting against President Museveni in the 2021 elections has had many of his music concerts cancelled by Police in the recent past, citing failure to adhere to the Public Order Management Act, a law the opposition considers as a deliberate instrument to stifle their activities.
Mugisha Muntu, another opposition leader of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) said “the arrest of Bobi Wine and consequent remand is yet another of government’s excesses as it clings to power that is steadily slipping out of its grip”.
On his part, Kampala Mayor, Erias Lukwago said that Monday’s events (the detention of Bobi Wine and the blocking of an FDC rally in Kasese) should be a concern for everyone.
He says these actions point to the fast deteriorating political environment in the country.
“We have always stressed that with this brazen repression, violation of the freedom of association and assembly as well as outright abuse of state power, the citizenry ought to be more assertive and seize their sovereignty under Article 3 of the Constitution,” Lukwago wrote on Facebook on Monday.
He said that these violations attest to the flaws in the controversial Public Order Management Act which need to be addressed.
Meanwhile, Kenyan opposition legislator, Babu Owino who represents Embakasi East has also joined the forces demanding for the release of Bobi Wine.
“Freedom and Democracy are under siege in Uganda and all those who hold these values dear must speak out,” he tweeted.
“Bobi Wine’s only crime is being a young person who desires a better future for his fellow Ugandans,” Owino added.
He appealed to President Museveni “to rid himself of this archaic politics of persecution” which he says “will only lead him down the same path as Gadaffi, Mubarak, Bouteflika and most recently, Omar Al Bashir”.