UGANDA POLITICS – Bobi Wine Speaks Out
By Paul Ndiho
Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni says external players should refrain from interfering in the countries affairs, days after Ugandan pop musician-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine called for international action against Uganda following his alleged torture by security forces.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday responded to Bobi Wine’s allegations of torture and warned against foreign interference in the country’s politics.
“It is important that external players refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of other countries. Interfering in internal affairs of other countries is morally and practically wrong.” He added that
“There has been so much talk about the torture by the security forces of people like Honorable Bobi Wine and Zaake. This talk is in the media, in other non-court forum, yet, these are matters in the courts of law. What if those allegations turn out to be false, how will the accusers, local and foreign rectify the injustice they have done to the security forces?”
Last week the U.S. lawyer for opposition lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi, a musician well known by his stage name Bobi Wine, called on the United States to stop funding Uganda’s military as a punitive measure against what Kyagulanyi said was torture by authorities in his country.
“The least I can do is to speak out for those hundreds if not thousands of people that have been brutalized. I got injections that I don’t know about, and I spent quite a long time on cuffs, shackled both hands and legs.”
Bobi Wine, is in the United States undergoing treatment for injuries he says he suffered at the hands of Ugandan security forces while in detention following his arrest on August 14. However, Ugandan officials have steadfastly denied that Wine was tortured while in custody. Authorities have charged Wine with treason for allegedly stoning President Yoweri Museveni’s motorcade. In Uganda, a treason charge can carry the death penalty.
Wine was elected to parliament in 2017 and has gained widespread popularity among the nation’s youth, for his attacks on Museveni and his administration. Many of his youthful followers say they feel excluded and alienated by the nation’s current political establishment.
Robert Amsterdam, Bobi Wine’s lawyer, told those in attendance at the National Press Club news conference that he was putting the Ugandan government on notice.
“We want the American taxpayer to know that the American taxpayer is funding this. The military equipment we are supplying to Uganda is being used in a war of terror against Uganda’s citizens,”
“We call on the U.S. government to immediately suspend military funding to Uganda,”
However, in a statement released to the media, Ofwono Opondo, a Uganda Government spokesperson and Uganda Media Center executive director, rejected Amsterdam’s claims against the Ugandan government — saying quote —
“If Bobi Wine was tortured or injected with unknown substances, as is being claimed, he should quickly return to Uganda to raise those issues before the court, where the trial will be, and they shall transparently be investigated and culprits punished.”
“We strongly reject Mr. Amsterdam’s reference of the Uganda government as a criminal enterprise’ because Uganda is governed following our democratic Constitution, laws, and rules, as well as respect to recognized international standards,”
Despite his alleged mistreatment, Wine says he is returning to his beloved East African nation.
“I must go back home. Uganda is my home,” he said. “I want you (my supporters) to stand with the oppressed, not the oppressor.”
President Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since 1986 and has won a series of elections, receives diplomatic support from Washington for his deployment of troops in international peacekeeping missions — including the fight against militants in Somalia. So far, the U.S. has not commented on Wine’s comments or the President Museveni.
In December, the constitution was amended to remove the presidential age limit of 75 years, meaning Museveni can run again for president in 2021.