Uganda: Bobi Wine files random detention complaint at UN; US indicted of ‘subverting’ presidential election

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine, who is under de facto house arrest by the military, has filed an arbitrary detention complaint to the United Nations.

“Nigerian human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has filed this complaint on my behalf to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Arrest. We are challenging my continued illegal confinement by the Ugandan police and the military,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

Bobi Wine’s residence in Kampala has been surrounded by the army since Friday, a day after Uganda conducted presidential elections in which Bobi Wine competed against President Yoweri Museveni.

On Tuesday, Wine’s lawyers filed a petition in the high court challenging the legality of detaining Wine and his wife without charge. The court has not yet said when the petition will be heard according to his lawyer Benjamin Katana.

The former pop star-turned-legislator, who came second with almost 35 percent votes, rejected the results and accused his rival, President Yoweri Museveni, of winning by fraud. Wine has so far provided no evidence to support his allegations.

The electoral commission, on Saturday declared the long time president Museveni, the winner with 58.6 percent of the vote. Museveni, 76, has been in power since 1986.

The opposition leader, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said he will legally contest the result of the presidential election, alleging “widespread fraud” during the January 14 polls, seen as Uganda’s first election in which there was a real threat to Museveni’s rule.

Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, has retained power for 35 years. He changed Uganda’s constitution to enable himself to run for yet another five-year term.

The internet was shut down across the country shortly before the start of voting, though it has since returned, but social media is still in comatose.

The election had been overshadowed by violence since campaigning began. On Thursday, Human Rights Watch said the lead up to elections were characterised by widespread violence and human rights abuses.

“A democratic playing field for free and fair elections was worryingly absent during these elections,” Oryem Nyeko, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch, said.

“Instead of restricting free expression, movement, and assembly, the Ugandan government should take concrete steps to improve respect for human rights for all and remove all remaining restrictions,” Nyeko added.

Meanwhile, Uganda’s government has accused the United States of trying to “subvert” last week’s presidential elections after the US ambassador attempted to visit opposition leader Bobi Wine, who is under house arrest.

Earlier, the US embassy has said last week’s vote was tainted by harassment of opposition candidates, suppression of media and rights advocates, and a nationwide internet shutdown.

“These unlawful actions and the effective house arrest of a presidential candidate continue a worrying trend on the course of Uganda’s democracy,” it said in the statement on Monday.

US Ambassador Natalie E Brown was stopped from visiting Wine at his residence in a suburb in the northern outskirts of the capital, Kampala the embassy said in a statement on Monday.

The mission though has yet to comment on the allegation, said Brown wanted to check on the “health and safety” of Wine, who became famous after years of singing about government corruption and nepotism, charges the government denies.

Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said Brown had no business visiting Wine. “What she has been trying to do blatantly is to meddle in Uganda’s internal politics, particularly elections, to subvert our elections and the will of the people,” he said. “She shouldn’t do anything outside the diplomatic norms.”

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