Uganda: Singer Chameleone Blocked From Visiting Jailed Bobi Wine

Ugandan Afro-beat singer Joseph Mayanja popularly known as Jose Chameleone was Tuesday denied access to Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi popularly known as Bobi Wine who is on remand at Luzira Prison.

Bobi Wine was on Monday arrested and remanded after being charged with disobedience of statutory duty, an offence the state says he committed on July 11, 2018 as he protested against Over the Top tax (OTT) popularly known as mobile money and social media taxes.

Chameleon, a popular musician of his generation in Uganda and many countries, on Tuesday posted on his social media platforms saying he was denied access to the musician-cum politician because he had no clearance from Dr Johnson Byabasaija, the Commissioner General of Uganda Prison Services.

"Today morning I woke up and went to Luzira Maximum Prison to visit my comrade, Bobi Wine, I was informed that I had to get clearance from the Commissioner General. I tried to negotiate but it was all in Vain! Nevertheless, I pray for you my brother. Be strong as ever.

Thanks everyone who has made effort to visit our brother," Chameleon wrote.

Our efforts to get a comment from the Prisons management were futile by the time of filing this story as our repeated phone calls to Mr Frank Baine, the public relations officer of Uganda prisons went unanswered.

Chameleon was in the company of Kampala Mayor, Mr Erias Lukwago, Mityana Municipality MP, Mr Francis Zaake, Mukono Municipality MP, Mr Betty Nambooze and fellow singer Nubian Li, among others.

Chameleone's visit was just hours after police fired teargas and rubber bullets at scores of demonstrators who took to the streets to protest Bobi Wine's arrest.

Hundreds of people held rallies in several suburbs of Kampala a day after the latest arrest of the politician.

In a statement, the Uganda police said there was a minor incident "where undisciplined youth tried to demonstrate" but that the situation had been brought under control.

Fires were lit in the middle of major roads, causing traffic jams around the Ugandan capital.

Bobi Wine was arrested Monday, barely two days after being placed under house arrest for two days.

He was arrested while on the way to a live concert at his One Love Beach in Busabala, Wakiso District.

He was remanded to prison until May 2, over an allegedly illegal protest in 2018.

Amnesty International on Tuesday called for his immediate release.

"The Ugandan authorities must immediately free Bobi Wine and stop misusing the law in a shameless attempt to silence him for criticizing the government. It is not a crime for Bobi Wine to hold a concert or organize a protest; it is a right enshrined in Ugandan and international law," said Amnesty's regional deputy director, Mr Seif Magango.

The singer, who entered parliament in 2017 and has emerged as a leading critic of President Museveni, has struck a chord with Ugandans with his songs about social, political and economic injustice.

Authorities have repeatedly blocked him from performing publicly.

One of Bobi Wine's songs contains the lyric "freedom fighters become dictators," while others hint that Museveni has stayed in power too long.

The 74-year-old president has led Uganda since seizing power as a rebel leader in 1986. He intends to stand for re-election to a sixth term in office in 2021.

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