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Opposition Leader Bobi Wine Detained at Home, Scores of Supporters Held by Police

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opposition leader bobi wine detained at home scores of supporters held by police
opposition leader bobi wine detained at home scores of supporters held by police
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Uganda’s opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine, is currently facing restrictions on his movement as per the police’s explanation that it is a precautionary measure to prevent him from mobilizing a march. The leader of the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party had been detained at Entebbe airport upon his return to Uganda, bypassing immigration authorities.

As of Friday, Bobi Wine remained confined to his home, while police had arrested numerous of his supporters. Kampala Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango stated that they were detaining several of Bobi Wine’s supporters, with more arrests ongoing. The charges against them include incitement to violence and planning an unlawful procession covering a 43-kilometer route from the airport to Kampala, known as the “One Million march.”

It remained unclear whether Bobi Wine was under house arrest or preventive arrest. The police operations were directed at thwarting the planned ‘One Million march,’ which the opposition leader was allegedly organizing upon his return to Uganda. Bobi Wine had left the country last month after police prohibited his national rallies, accusing him of delivering divisive speeches.

Upon landing at Entebbe on Thursday, Bobi Wine was immediately apprehended as he disembarked from the plane and taken to his home, bypassing the customary immigration clearance for international arrivals.

Uganda Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Vianney Luggya defended this action, explaining that immigration services could be provided as needed, and an immigration officer could offer services outside the airport. The decision was attributed to security concerns, with fears of supporters overwhelming airport security at the runway.

Uganda’s immigration spokesperson Simon Mundeyi asserted that security takes precedence in such situations, especially for individuals who may be unwell. This approach of bypassing immigration procedures was previously applied to opposition leader Kizza Besigye after the 2016 elections.

Kampala Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango mentioned that the operation was ongoing, and the duration would depend on intelligence assessments of the threat level. He confirmed that between 40 and 100 individuals were in custody, although the NUP claimed over 300 of their supporters were detained.

Charles Matovu, a member of parliament, remained in detention as of Friday afternoon, while the party’s legal teams attempted to secure his release.

The police reported that those arrested were found in possession of megaphone speakers, red berets, and t-shirts with the slogan “Kunga Uganda,” loosely translated as ‘mobilize Uganda.’ These items were believed to be intended for rallying people for a procession.

Despite the police warning against organizing processions to welcome Bobi Wine, his supporters insisted on going ahead with the plan.

The police had previously banned rallies organized by the NUP leader, accusing him of making sectarian statements and threatening peace and unity. Bobi Wine had initially declared his intention to proceed with nationwide tours and rallies following the 2021 general elections but subsequently traveled abroad.