KAMPALA (Reuters) – Uganda’s opposition leader Bobi Wine was briefly detained on Monday as he led an anti-government demonstration in the capital, his latest effort to reject the results of a January presidential election he says he won.
A tweet on Wine’s Twitter handle said Wine was arrested while leading MPs in a peaceful protest at City Square in Kampala against “the abduction, torture and murder of his supporters”. A tweet 90 minutes later said he had been driven in a police truck back to his home, which was surrounded by police and the military.
Police spokesman Patrick Onyango was not immediately reachable. The government has said Wine is trying to destabilize Uganda via violent and illegal protests.
Wine, 39, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, lost a Jan. 14 presidential election to Yoweri Museveni, who has led the country since 1986.
Last month Wine filed a supreme court challenge seeking cancellation of the results, saying he won and citing impossibly high voter turnout in some areas. He however later withdrew the case, saying the judges were biased.
Video footage on Ghetto TV, an online broadcaster affiliated with Wine’s National Unity Platform opposition party, showed police dragging Wine away from the crowd of supporters and other party members he was leading in a march down a Kampala street.
In a suit and tie and wearing his trademark red beret, Wine held a placard bearing the words “Bring Back Our People,” referring to hundreds of supporters he says have been abducted by security agents.
A lawmaker who grew up in a Kampala slum and gained popularity as a singer before running for office in 2017, Wine mounted a formidable challenge to Museveni.
Wine’s election rallies were routinely broken up with bullets, beatings, teargas and detentions and he was arrested several times while campaigning. Authorities said he violated COVID-19-related restrictions on public gatherings.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Maggie Fick, William Maclean)