Popular Ugandan musician Bobi Wine – an opposition MP whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi – was released from prison on bail Monday, two weeks after he was arrested in the Uganda town of Arua.
Wine was charged with treason after marchers from an August 13 political rally for independent candidate Kassiano Wadri sparred during clashes that Ugandan security forces broke up with live fire. Wadri ultimately won that local election, but also was charged with treason and was in court Monday.
Wine’s driver, Yasin Kawuma, was shot and killed during the violence. President Yoweri Museveni also was in Arua two weeks ago to campaign for a different candidate when, according to authorities, his car came under attack by a stone-throwing mob. Wine, Wadri and 32 others were arrested as a result.
The case has drawn international attention to Museveni and increased political repression in Uganda, including allegations that the seriously injured Wine was tortured. The popular musician was on crutches and taken to Lubaga Hospital after the court appearance, but Ugandan authorities deny any abuses while the popular singer was in custody. Wine is expected to travel to London for treatment.
A second MP, Francis Zaake, remains at Lubaga with serious injuries after he was found in Arua.
Wine’s fate has sparked protests across the country, including one met with tear gas in Gulu on Monday. There are numerous arrests of Wine supporters and additional fatalities, including one death during angry street protests last week in Gomba. The chronically detained Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change also was arrested last week.
Wine has been the target of death threats before, including episodes with grenades thrown at his Magere home last year, in a nation where suspected assassinations are not uncommon. He was an outspoken leader against Museveni during last year’s age-limit debate in parliament, and the center of controversy after he said he refused a bribe to ensure the aging Museveni could run again.
Image: Kizza Besigye