Under home arrest after contested election, Uganda’s Bobi Wine nonetheless hopes to encourage nation’s youth

Uganda’s Bobi Wine is a pied piper of a determine who dared increase the hopes of the nation’s youth, solely to be overwhelmed in an election with the chances tipped towards him by a man who has had his arms on the levers of energy for 35 years. 

So what now for the self-styled “ghetto president”?

Two days after Uganda’s electoral fee introduced that President Yoweri Museveni had decisively received final week’s poll, Wine and his spouse, Barbara, remained beneath home arrest at their residence in Magere, simply north of the capital, Kampala.

“Nobody is allowed in, nobody is allowed out. We are stuck,” Wine stated in a phone interview with CBC News on Monday morning, including that government safety forces had not solely surrounded his home however “jumped over the fence and taken control of my compound.” 

“We demand that they release me and they release all the political prisoners so we can be able to assemble freely, like is provided for by the law, and discuss the way forward.”

Wine stated it was clear Museveni was attempting to forestall him from chatting with his supporters.

“[The government is] worried I will make a statement that will make the people go active. We’ve been telling the people of Uganda and we continue to tell them that they must be non-violent, but that they must be assertive.”  

Wine stated his National Unity Platform (NUP) plans to launch a authorized problem to the outcomes, which accorded him 35 per cent of the vote, and to current proof of electoral tampering as soon as web entry is restored to the nation.

Museveni ‘trying past this election’

The government shut web suppliers down only a day earlier than the vote on Jan. 14 and sooner or later after navy tanks and safety forces paraded by means of opposition neighbourhoods in Kampala, in a present critics say was meant to intimidate opposition supporters already hurting from weeks of violence and arrests by government safety forces.  

Few analysts thought Wine stood an opportunity of successful the elections, given Museveni’s dedication to carry on to energy and the instruments obtainable to him. But they are saying Wine nonetheless stays a risk to Museveni’s maintain on energy, and that it is clear Museveni sees him as such.  

Although not essentially from the poll box.

“People are right to say Mr. Museveni is looking beyond this election,” stated Fred Muhumuza, a lecturer in economics on the University of Makerere in Kampala. 

Yoweri Museveni has been Uganda’s president for greater than three a long time and nonetheless enjoys assist amongst older and rural voters. (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

“His biggest worry is the ideology that has started, this thinking that is beginning to come. We’ve seen it in the Arab Spring: Once citizens feel they are not being well provided for by services that have been given by government, it becomes very hard to govern them. So I think there are concerns about the governability of the country going forward.”  

In a speech on Saturday, Museveni claimed the election to be the fairest in Uganda’s historical past.

His assist and that of his social gathering, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), comes largely from rural voters and people sufficiently old to recollect the soundness he dropped at the nation after the bloody legacies of Idi Amin and Milton Obote within the Seventies and ’80s.  

“For the older generation, the Museveni [appeal] has to do with security,” stated Muhumuza. “There are people who think [support for Wine] might have to do with other governments or foreign interests trying to take advantage of the youth and cause some kind of insecurity in the country.”  

Wine appeals to youthful Ugandans

But two-thirds of Uganda’s inhabitants is beneath the age of 30, providing up a strong constituency for Wine in a rustic where jobs are scarce and many citizens will have identified no other president than Museveni. 

“They need to get opportunities to work and for the first time they have a younger person representing them who is in their age bracket,” stated Muhumuza. 

Now 38, Wine grew up in a Kampala slum, which earned him the moniker of the “ghetto president.” He grew first to be a profitable musician, altering his title from Robert Kyyagulanyi to Bobi Wine and writing songs about social injustice. In 2017, he stood for the nationwide parliament and received.

Bobi Wine is seen taking an injured supporter right into a medical centre on Dec. 1, 2020 in Jinja, Uganda. This election season was marred by violence. (Getty Images)

“He’s been a public commentator. Every time in Uganda we had a very sensitive issue, Bobi Wine had a song, [and was] making an intervention. The music that made him a star was music about HIV/AIDS,” stated Yusuf Serunkuma, a social researcher at Makerere University.

Serunkuma additionally thinks Museveni is fearful about Wine’s capacity to mobilize the road. The 2018 protests in close by Sudan, which led to the ousting of president Omar al-Bashir after 30 years in energy, provide a recent reminder of what public demonstrations can do.  

Serunkuma additionally stated opposition activists perceive that it is nearly not possible to win an election in a dictatorship that disguises itself as a democracy. 

“So what happens is that you mobilize the constituents that make it difficult for [the government] to continue. And I think that this is what Bobi Wine is doing.” 

Serunkuma stated it is that risk that Museveni has been getting ready for, quite than the election.

Election observers stored away 

The president’s supporters say he has each proper to order safety forces onto the streets to forestall what they are saying may very well be a possible revolt.  

Andrew Mwenda, a journalist with shut ties to Museveni and his interior circle, stated he is aware of Bobi Wine “very well.”

“I don’t have a problem with him, even though I think he is intellectually handicapped to understand the complexities of government,” stated Mwenda, the founder and managing editor of a newsmagazine referred to as the Independent.

He dismisses Wine’s supporters as thugs and hooligans. “They are incapable of tolerating dissent. It’s not in their DNA. They make Trump’s supporters look like the most liberal democrats the world has ever seen.”

On the other hand, Mwenda describes Museveni as a “very tolerant man” — though the editor nearly boasts that he himself was as soon as jailed by Museveni, presumably for criticizing the government. 

He stated latest assaults by safety forces towards reporters protecting the Bobi Wine marketing campaign — or attempting to — have been “regrettable,” however not a “reflection of the freedom that exists” in Uganda.

WATCH | CBC information crew deported from Uganda forward of election:

A CBC News crew was deported from Uganda regardless of having media credentials, as a contentious election approaches. It has already been marred by violent crackdowns on protesters. 2:31

Canada joined a number of European Union international locations, the United Kingdom and the United States in expressing concern over the harassment of journalists and media freedom forward of the election.  

Election observers from the U.S. have been refused permission to observe the vote while the European Union pulled out its personal crew late final yr, citing Uganda’s failure to implement earlier suggestions on electoral reform.

A coalition of civil society teams making up Africa Elections Watch issued an announcement saying their observers discovered that the vote didn’t “meet the threshold of a democratic, free, fair and transparent credible electoral process.”  

Wine completely satisfied to ‘encourage younger people’

Wine’s problem to Museveni is the story of this election and is doubtlessly a defining second for the nation. But it makes it no simpler to foretell his future.

On the telephone on Monday, Wine was endlessly gracious, however the fatigue in his voice got here by means of. 

Serunkuma has described Wine’s reputation as contagious. He acknowledged that Wine has “really been successful, but I’m not sure whether what he’s done is sustainable. Ugandans do not take to the streets.” 

Wine, centre, is escorted by a police officer in 2020 as he’s arrested on prices of illegal meeting earlier than his first public assembly forward of the 2021 election season. (Stringer/AFP through Getty Images)

When they did in November, it got here with a heavy value — at the very least 54 people have been killed by safety forces when protests erupted after considered one of Wine’s arrests, allegedly for breaking COVID-19 restrictions. 

“I don’t think anything is going to happen because the president has done so much to prepare for the moment after the election,” stated Serunkuma. “It started way, way back.”

Muhuzuma stated “there are people who think the election will simply be an event in a long process of what will eventually remove Mr. Museveni.”

The query is, will his regime crack down even more durable on civil liberties or will a few of these in energy be rattled sufficient to try to change one thing from inside?

“A lot of [Museveni’s] supporters have, I think, picked up that signal, to say we can’t just keep growth that is not inclusive, that is not creating opportunities for youth,” stated Muhuzuma.

For his half, Wine stated he’s decided to see Uganda by means of to a new chapter. If that means merely serving as an inspiration for actual change, it will be sufficient.

“I came in not saying that I am the alpha and the omega, but I wanted to spark the mind that would change the world, to influence and inspire young people, and I am very glad to see that happening,” he stated.  

Wine additionally stated he continues to worry for his security and that of his spouse.  

“We hope the world continues to put the focus on Uganda and to hold General Museveni accountable for our lives.”

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