Pop Star Who Challenged Uganda’s Leader Now Faces House Arrest

(Bloomberg) -- A Ugandan pop star who plans to run for president faced effective house arrest as authorities prevented one of veteran leader Yoweri Museveni’s main critics from holding concerts.

Robert Kyagulanyi, who goes by the stage name Bobi Wine, was seized by officers Monday as he traveled by car to a venue on Lake Victoria to address the media on alleged police harassment. He said on Twitter on Tuesday that he was “under siege” by the police and military who’d blocked all roads leading to his home.

Pop Star Who Challenged Uganda’s Leader Now Faces House Arrest

Police spokesman Fred Enanga didn’t answer phone calls seeking comment; the force has previously said it was preventing the performances because the organizers failed to meet new security measures. The U.S. Embassy in Kampala on Tuesday condemned the obstruction of concerts and peaceful rallies and urged Uganda to respect free speech.

Since Kyagulanyi’s election as a lawmaker in 2017, the 37-year-old has become a vocal opponent of Museveni, who seized power in 1986 and is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

Last August, he was charged with treason after his supporters allegedly threw stones at a convoy carrying the president in northwestern Uganda; he later received treatment in the U.S. for injuries he said were sustained during his detention.

Kyagulanyi told Deutsche Welle this month that he would likely run for the presidency in 2021 elections. Uganda’s Supreme Court on April 18 declared legal the parliament’s abolition of an age limit of 75 for candidates, clearing the way for Museveni, who’s 74, to run again.

“Strong leaders and states do not stifle speech -- they allow their citizens to participate fully and without fear in a vibrant multiparty democracy,” the U.S. Embassy said on its website.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.