Dozens of campaign workers with Uganda’s National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine, are still in detention despite a court ordering their release in late December.
Uganda holds its presidential election on Thursday, 14 January 2021. Bobi Wine, 38, is considered the main challenger to President Yoweri Museveni who has been in office since 1986.
On Dec. 30, 118 Bobi Wine supporters and staff were arrested in the town of Kalangala on Bugala Island in Lake Victoria, where they had travelled to campaign.
After obtaining more court release documents on Thursday, 46 people, mostly supporters, were freed while 72, mainly campaign staff, were taken to Makindye military barracks on the outskirts of Kampala.
As of Friday, Bobi Wine’s lawyer George Musisi said Uganda’s prisons service have refused to comply with a Masaka court directive on their release.
Bobi Wine, a former singer, has himself been arrested no fewer than three times. Police alleged that he breached laws governing public order and COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings.
This week he sent his wife and four children to the US citing concerns for their safety during the election period.
Bobi Wine’s lawyer said they were preparing another court application for their release. He said the people freed on Thursday said they had been tortured.
On Thursday, Uganda police confronted Bobi Wine during an online news conference held to announce a petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Journalists were left dumbfounded as they watched as an officer appeared to drag Bobi Wine from the car while he pleaded that he had broken no law.
He added that police fired tear gas and bullets as they swarmed his car.
“I am not even allowed to park on the side of the road,” he said. “Please don’t embarrass our country.”
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