KAMPALA - Ugandan musician and opposition legislator Robert Kyagulanyi, best known by his stage name Bobi Wine, was arrested Monday while holding a public meeting in preparation for his presidential campaign.
The Uganda Electoral Commission gave Wine the go-ahead in December to hold such meetings. But police say Wine and his team did not meet some requirements of the Public Order Management Act.
Wine and some followers had just arrived at the venue in the Wakiso district, north of Kampala, when police fired teargas and arrested the aspiring presidential candidate along with other members of his People Power movement.
"Honorable Kyagulanyi is being held at Naggalama Police Station,” said David Lubongoya, People Power executive secretary. “He was held at Kasangati earlier and there were protests by young people who were demanding his release and police took him out from there. Honorable Kyagulanyi is an aspiring candidate who is supposed to consult people. Once he is out of that place, we will continue with the consultations."
In December, Wine wrote to Uganda's Electoral Commission, informing them of his intentions to hold meetings with the public, in preparation for the August presidential nominations.
The Electoral Commission gave Wine a green light but with conditions, which included having closed venues for consultations, and warned against processions and public rallies.
Ugandan police spokesperson Fred Enanga said police received a notification letter about Wine's meeting in Wakiso, but says the candidate failed to meet some of the requirements under the Public Order Management Act.
"They should inform all the parties that are involved of the traffic or assembly plan,” Enanga said. “They should provide sufficient stewards proportionate to the number of participants. Now, coordinating with police that is during and after, ensure adequate provision of emergency services, response capabilities like ambulances for evacuation."
Wine has several other meetings planned. However, Lubongoya tells VOA that owners of some venues have been called and threatened by police — a claim the police deny.
Wine has made it clear that he wants to challenge and oust President Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 election.
It's still not clear when Wine will be released to allow him proceed with the consultative meetings.