KAMPALA, UGANDA - Ugandan musician and opposition legislator Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, officially announced his bid for the nation's presidency in 2021.
Wine made the declaration to challenge incumbent President Yoweri Museveni at his home in a colorful ceremony that began with a prayer and featured the legislator singing for his supporters.
He then took to the podium to offer a message of change for citizens, whose rights he says are being trampled and whose voices are not being heard.
“On behalf of the people of Uganda, I am challenging you to a free and fair election in 2021,” Wine declared in a clear challenge to Museveni.
Wine is the third person to express interest in running for president of Uganda. His message to his supporters was one of unity ahead of the election.
“Our people are united by their pain. Our people are united by the challenges they go through every day. Today Uganda is divided in two parts, the oppressors and the oppressed. Now we come together as the oppressed people of Uganda to demand that power goes back to the people,” Wine said.
Unity as key to success
After the 2011 general elections in Uganda, political activists formed the For God and My Country movement, known as 4GC, that led to the "walk to work" protests. Its national coordinator, Independent legislator Mathias Mpuuga, explains why he thinks together with Bobi Wine, it will be possible to defeat Museveni, who has been in power for three decades.
“If we work together, we stand a very big chance. Because we know where and what he does to steal our elections. If we work together and make sure that all corners of the country are communicating, we stand a huge chance in stopping him in his tracks,” Mpuuga said.
Speaking to VOA by phone, Ofwono Opondo, the government spokesperson, welcomed Wine’s announcement, though he wondered about Wine’s chances to make it to the country’s top leadership position.
On whether Wine will be stopped by the government and police to campaign around the country, Opondo said Uganda is a democratic country and Wine will be allowed to move around the nation. He said, however, he can’t speak for the police, who may have different orders.
Bobi Wine still faces treason charges for his alleged involvement in pelting President Museveni’s car in Arua district during a by-election.
In 2018, Uganda’s parliament enacted a law scrapping the presidential age limit of 75. The move that was upheld by the Supreme Court this year was seen to pave way for 74-year-old Museveni who is seeking a sixth term in 2021.