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Uganda High Court Rules Police Halting Bobi Wine Concerts Illegal

FILE - Singer turned politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, gestures during a press conference, held at his home in Magere in the outskirts of Kampala, July 24, 2019.

Robert Kyagulanyi, a member of Uganda’s National Assembly popularly known as Bobi Wine says he is not excited about a court ruling that declared police orders to halt his concerts in the country illegal. Obiga Kania, Uganda’s internal affairs minister, says as long as the law says they can halt his shows, they will continue doing so. Wine last held a concert in Uganda three years ago.

The High Court of Kampala nullified Uganda Police Force orders barring popular legislator and musician Wine from staging concerts in the country.

Justice Esta Nambayo said it was illegal for the police to stop event managers from organizing what they dubbed Kyarenga extra concerts, after one of his songs, which were to be held at Wine’s One Leave Beach among other venues in Uganda.

After a court battle lasting a year, Nambayo said the order was illegal and issued an order to allow all his future concerts to be held. Wine told VOA the ruling doesn’t change anything because the police, whom he describes as militarized personalized police working for President Yoweri Museveni, will not allow him to hold a concert.

“There’s nothing to excite me at all because it’s not the first time that the court rules something, but again, the police act otherwise. With or without the court ruling, I had the right to work. So, I will still attempt to work within the law. I know that until there is a rule of law, until the courts can be respected, still, the same thing are going to be happening,” Wine said.

Kania, the internal affairs minister, said the court ruling will not stop the police from implementing public order management laws that govern any public gathering.

“Police is not out to frustrate Kyagulanyi as a person or to frustrate assemblies for the sake of it. No. If the law says, the police should not be anywhere, where Kyagulanyi is holding meetings, then the police will not be. The Police Act itself still gives the police powers to manage assemblies, then they will still continue,” Kania said.

Erias Lukwago, Wine’s lawyer said the only challenge they are bound to face is police impunity. Otherwise he says, the court order was explicit.

“He is free to hold any concert, anywhere in the country, without even seeking for the permission of police. Without even seeking for any clearance. Court did not stop at making a declaration. They went ahead to issue an injunctive order against police. They said police is stopped from interfering with any musical concert organized by Honorable Kyagulanyi," Lukwago said.

Wine held an online concert last weekend, attracting hundreds, but it is not clear whether this can be turned into a live concert in the country without police interference.