Uganda government disputes United States statement on Bobi Wine’s shows

Ofwono Opondo
Uganda government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo

All Ugandan artists with the exception of the Kyadondo East legislator, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine are enjoying freedom of performance, according to Uganda Government Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo. “Save for one artiste, all artistes in Uganda enjoys freedom of performance and the media platforms are free. Equally all politicians enjoy free access to these media platforms,” he added.

Mr Ofwono was responding to a US Embassy statement questioning why government has been cancelling Bobi Wine’s shows. According to Ofwono, all leaders are expected to respect standards set by security agencies. Bobi Wine clashed with police after his Monday Easter extra Kyarenga concert was cancelled by police.

Asuman Mugenyi, the Director of Operation Uganda Police Force argued that Bobi Wine’s previous music concerts held at his One Love Beach fell short of security guidelines.

Mugenyi further claimed that Bobi Wine shows have severally turned into a public nuisance, violated traffic rules and regulations and caused other misconducts, which don’t only breach the law but endanger the lives of other people who are not even part of his music events.

Bobi Wine had scheduled to address the media at his One Love Beach, Busabala on Easter Monday but was welcomed by heavy security deployment, arrested and driven to his home in Magere, Wakiso. He later addressed the media at his home and announced that he would be walking to police headquarters to deliver a letter notifying authorities of his planned protest.

However, he was not allowed by police and military police to leave his home as planned. It’s in the midst of this situation that US Embassy released a statement Tuesday morning questioning Uganda government actions.

The US Embassy questioned government’s motive of blocking rallies and radio shows organised by Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and the party’s four time presidential candidate, Dr. Kizza Besigye in the recent weeks.

“Today we join the many Ugandans asking why their government has recently blocked musical concerts and radio talk shows, disrupted peaceful demonstrations and rallies, and deployed heavy-handed security forces against peaceful citizens,” the statement reads.

“Uganda’s constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and expression. We echo the Ugandan people in calling on the government to respect these rights. Strong leaders and states do not stifle speech – they allow their citizens to participate fully and without fear in a vibrant multi-party democracy.”

Meanwhile, Bobi Wine has been placed under house arrest by the Uganda Police Force.

Bobi Wine had planned to walk to the police headquarters in Naguru to deliver a protest note to the Inspector General of Police after Police cancelled his music concert, and also forcefully drove him back home in Magere from his One Love Beach in Busabala on Monday 22nd.

Following police’s actions, Bobi Wine said that he would go to the police headquarters and deliver the note to police boss Martin Okoth Ochola to express his disapproval of police’s continued infringement on rights and brutality against members of the opposition.

However, yesterday Tuesday 23rd, Bobi Wine was not allowed to step out of his compound. Police led by Kasangati division police commander Raphael Magyezi advised Kyagulanyi to remain inside his house else he risked being arrested on charges of inciting violence.

The ‘Kyarenga’ singer insisted on moving out of the compound but was overpowered by the police who dragged him back into the house. Over 30 police officers have since been deployed around his home to prevent the legislator from moving out. Visitors to his house are also now restricted.

Later, Kyagulanyi delegated his lawyer, Benjamin Katana, Mityana municipality MP Francis Butebi Zaake and Butambala County MP Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi to deliver his document to Ochola.

Uganda government disputes US statement on Bobi Wine's shows
Bobi Wine has unsuccessfully attempted to leave his house

Muwanga says blocking Bobi Wine’s music concerts shouldn’t be looked at in isolation since it is part of the bigger on-going oppression against all opposition forces which actions he says depicts that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is in panic mode.

“He [Museveni] sees what is going on around the region – in Sudan, in Zimbabwe, in Algeria and the fear is real. The leaders of this calibre are losing power to the popular will of the people. So the message he is sending is not to Bobi Wine but to the people of Uganda that look, Uganda is a different state to which I’m in control,” Muwanga said.

Bobi Wine has called on all Ugandans to rise up and protest against President Museveni’s government, saying they had reached the last remaining peaceful avenue after seeking, and failing to get justice in courts of law and the Uganda Human Rights Commission.