Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly known as Bobi Wine, expects to end President Yoweri Museveni’s 34-year rule in Uganda. The popstar-turned -lawmaker currently is the leading opposition candidate in Uganda’s presidential election. Bobi Wine is the front-runner among ten other candidates running against Yoweri Museveni, who looks to extend his rule for more years.
Opposition Candidate Bobi Wine Continuously Harassed
To many citizens of Uganda, it seems that Yoweri Museveni is intimidated by Bobi Wine. In previous elections and the current one, citizens have seen opposition candidate Wine and his loyalist repeatedly arrested for allegedly threatening public orders. Additionally, Wine and his loyalist have faced relentless intimidation as they conduct their campaigns. Election analysts say the crackdowns and intimidation have been more brutal and widespread this election year.
Police officers have beaten, tear-gassed, harassed, and even pepper-sprayed opposition candidates. Because of such actions, Wine decided this week to swap his trademark red beret for a helmet. He also took to wearing a bullet-proof vest in addition to the helmet. Mr. Wine told reporters he opted for the change because he believes the tools will help him survive the campaign trail he describes as a war zone. Wine added that he starts his days with shadow-boxing and a prayer to survive the campaigns and hopefully win the election.
Because of Wine’s energy, music, and humble origin, many Ugandan citizens have been drawn to him. The leader seems to have struck a chord within the hearts of many of the youth in Uganda. Because of this, many experts argue that he is being targeted for he seems to be the only possible candidate to succeed Museveni.
Banning of Election Rallies in Uganda
Since last month police have detained Wine multiple times, including when he filed his nomination papers. He told reporters authorities have targeted him with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters as well as pepper spray. Ugandan authorities say Wine is constantly under fire because he breaks laws governing public order and COVID-19 restrictions.
Last year the Ugandan government banned election rallies because they could spread COVID-19. The Uganda Electoral Commission spokesman Paul Bukenya advised candidates not o hold rallies as the functions could become coronavirus superspreader events. He asked candidates to disseminate their messages using banners, billboards, flyers, brochures, and Social media.
But Bobi Wine and other candidates argue that not holding rallies could prevent Uganda from having a free and fair election. They said this because most government allies control most of the media outlets in Uganda. So Wine and other candidates have decided to break the government directive and hold rallies.
Because of the rallies, Wine has been arrested several times. During his latest arrest, protests erupted in Uganda over the leader’s detention. At least 54 people died from the demonstrations. Wine told reporters that at one time, the police blocked his path while he tried to take an injured protester to the hospital. The injured protester ended up dying in Wine’s campaign ambulance.
Wine added that he sometimes eats tear gas during his campaign trail as early as seven in the morning. Other times he said the tear gas could come much later. In other times Wine said he could go out with 20 people to campaign and end up with only half of them as the other half ends up in prison.