As singer-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine looks to deny incumbent President Yoweri Museveni a sixth term, Ugandans go to the polls on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, reported on Twitter that his home had been raided and his security guards arrested by the army. The incident marked the latest in a series of arrests and aggressive assaults in recent months against Wine himself and his supporters, journalists and election officials.
The 38-year-old said, before imploring Museveni to justify the arrests of his campaign staff, assistants and supporters, “These acts of impunity are all kicks from a dying horse.”
He also released a video appearing to show the arrest of a campaign surrogate in a hotel, claiming that another supporter had been killed by the military and that private security had been forced to withdraw from his house. news agencies has asked the Ugandan government for comment, but a response has yet to be received.
In November, 54 people were killed over two days of anti-government protests, drawing international condemnation and scrutiny on Museveni’s National Resistance Movement government to ensure a free and fair election. More than 18 million Ugandans have registered to vote, according to the Uganda electoral commission.
Wine’s vehicle was hit by a bullet in December at a police and military checkpoint, which authorities claimed was erected to enforce containment measures for Covid-19.
Bobi Wine, known as the “ghetto president” to supporters who have made his name in rural settlements around the capital, Kampala, and his National Unity Platform party run on a grassroots platform focused on improving public access to education, justice, health care and clean water.
He branded Museveni a “dictator” and blamed government corruption for stifling the youth of the country, gaining considerable follow-up through a musical career that often concentrated on the social problems faced by poorer Ugandans. His music, which he described as “education,” combines the genres of reggae and Afrobeat.
Museveni is the third longest serving head of state in Africa, having taken power in 1986 as the National Resistance Army’s rebel leader. Museveni, a lifelong foe of previous dictatorial regimes, was active in the rebel movements that overturned both Idi Amin and Milton Obote before he himself rose to power.
Now 76 years old, he is searching for a sixth presidential term, with critics arguing that during his tenure, the merger of party and state control has made any credible electoral challenge almost impossible over the past 35 years.
A peaceful transfer of power has never been seen in Uganda. On Monday, in a tweet, Museveni encouraged NRM supporters to get out and vote.
He added, “We shall put to shame all those who are unhappy with Uganda’s progress and therefore think they can use this election to set us back.”
An economic boom and emergence from the oppressive shadows of the likes of Amin and Obote preceded Museveni’s early years. “But economic opportunities are increasingly scarce for Uganda’s ever-younger and more educated population, despite running this campaign under the slogan “securing your future.
For the 700,000 young people who reach working age, just 75,000 new jobs are created annually, according to the World Bank.
“Museveni has lashed out at Wine in recent interviews as being backed by “foreigners” and “homosexuals.
Facebook revealed on Monday that it had shut down a network of false and duplicate social media accounts linked to the government intended to improve the popularity of certain contents.
The next day, reports emerged that in the run-up to the election, the government had directed internet service providers to block social media sites, messaging applications and select content. Tibor Nagy, the United States Late on Tuesday, the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs tweeted that such restrictions “undermine human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
Although the campaign of Wine has gathered a fervent follow-up of youth, global publicity and a strong presence in social media, the popularity of Museveni remains intact across large sections of the country and among older and rural voters, Pangea-Risk CEO Robert Besseling said on Tuesday.
Blessing said, “In September 2020, the NRM leadership was reshuffled to include younger leaders and earlier last year the NRM ruling party overwhelmingly won elections for representatives of special interest groups, such as the youth, at village level.”
“These local elections were a resounding affirmation of the NRM’s national grassroots electoral infrastructure, which the opposition lacks.”
He added that the possibility of a harsh security response targeting the opposition, state patronage, promises of oil resources, and Museveni’s own powerful support base in rural areas would “almost certainly see him re-elected.”