Lawyers representing Ugandan opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, known as Bobi Wine, have asked a court to order his release from a week-long de facto house arrest. State security has prevented anyone from entering or leaving Wine's home since he alleged fraud in last week's re-election of President Yoweri Museveni. State prosecutors say that Wine's family members can come and go as they please and the detention is for his protection, a claim denounced by the opposition and rights activists.
The state prosecutors presented the court with a sworn affidavit from the inspector general of police, alleging crimes committed or yet to be committed by Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine.
Citing protests on November 18 and November 19 in which 56 people were killed, authorities say they want to avoid a similar scenario if and when Wine is allowed to move around freely.
According to prosecutors, the National Unity Platform party leaders have been training its supporters in the art of sustaining riots in the event Wine is not announced as the winner of the January 14 elections.
Since the election, Wine and wife Barbara Itungo have been denied access to family, lawyers, donors and U.S. Ambassador Natalie Brown, who was blocked Monday from seeing them.
The state argues that if Wine is allowed to go free, lives will be put at risk and his actions will be intended to destabilize the peace. The government maintains that Wine’s detention is for his protection and aimed at preventing violence nationally.
Martin Mwambusya, the state attorney, asked the court to set stringent conditions to ensure standard operating procedures are followed to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 illness if Wine is allowed to leave home.
“That the applicant has been flouting COVID rules, he has declared violence. He should denounce those kinds of things and abide by the law,” he said.
Wine was runner-up in the election that saw longtime President Yoweri Museveni win a sixth term.
Wine’s lawyer, Medard Segona, said a bail application for his client has nothing to do with the police and does not need their permission. He says Wine is under illegal detention and that the family should be allowed to move about freely.
“These riots took place, when Kyagulanyi was in detention. So, even the criminality, if at all, of the riots committed while the man was in prison is attributed to him, as if he arrested and detained himself. My Lord, this application is dealing with the legality of incarceration. Whether the detention is lawful or not. We submitted that it’s unlawful,” he said.
In a statement, Amnesty International is demanding that the Ugandan authorities immediately lift the police and military siege of Wine’s home and release him and his wife.
Roland Ebole, Amnesty’s regional researcher, called on the Ugandan government to cease and desist from what Ebole called the abusive practice of arbitrarily detaining opposition leaders without charge.
“It is neither a crime to stand for president nor to want to challenge the election results in court. This continued confinement is politically motivated and a blatant violation of their human rights. It must be lifted immediately," he said.
A ruling on the matter has been set for January 25.