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Ugandan troops block US ambassador from Bobi Wine's house

By Reuters | January 19th 2021
Ugandan police officers refuse lawyers of Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, from meeting him at his house in Kampala, Uganda. [Reuters]

The United States ambassador in Kampala was blocked by security personnel from visiting opposition leader Bobi Wine at his residence, prompting the mission to call his house arrest a “worrying” sign.

Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has been under house arrest since Thursday shortly after casting his ballot in the country’s presidential elections.

Incumbent Yoweri Museveni, 76, who has been in power since 1986, was declared winner of the poll with 59% of the vote against Wine’s 35%.

US Ambassador Natalie E. Brown was stopped from visiting Kyagulanyi at his residence in a suburb in the northern outskirts of the capital, the embassy said in a statement late on Monday.

Brown wanted to check on Wine’s “health and safety,” the mission said. Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo did not pick up a Reuters’ call for comment.

Last week’s vote, the embassy said, was tainted by harassment of opposition candidates, suppression of media and rights advocates and a nationwide internet shutdown.

“These unlawful actions and the effective house arrest of a presidential candidate continue a worrying trend on the course of Uganda’s democracy,” it said.

The United States and the European Union did not deploy observer missions for the polls over denial of accreditations and failure by Ugandan authorities to implement recommendations by past missions.

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During the campaigning security forces routinely broke up Wine’s rallies with teargas, bullets, beatings and detentions. They cited violations of laws meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus for those actions.

In November, 54 people were killed as security forces quelled a protest that erupted after Wine was detained for alleged violation of the anti-coronavirus measures.

Wine and his National Unity Platform (NUP) have rejected the results and said they were planning a court challenge.

On Monday security forces cordoned off the party’s offices in the capital, a move the party said, is complicating their efforts to collect and put together evidence of irregularities committed during the election.

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