Uganda's Bobi Wine Vows to End Museveni's Rule

Popstar turned politician known as Bobi Wine says his bid for the 2021 presidential election is a defining moment for Ugandans yearning for change. The 37-year-old lawmaker spoke to RFI after unveiling a 150-man taskforce to coordinate campaign operations throughout the country and in the diaspora.

Members of the People Power campaign team include officials from Norbert Mao's opposition Democratic Party, Kizza Besgye's Forum for Democratic Change, JEEMA, independents legislators and defectors from President Yoweri Museveni's ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).

"They want a Uganda that works for all Ugandans and that is why they are joining us massively," the Kyadondo East MP, real name Robert Kyagulanyi, explains.

Intimidation

In the latest sign of the ravages Kyagulanyi's candidacy is causing to the ruling NRM, a member of the party dragged him to court for "running a self-styled unregistered political organisation operated under different names".

Uganda'sNew Vision newspaper reports that the case was filed at the constitutional court last Friday, by Adens Rutaro Ntare.

He is reported by the publication to be a former member of the elite unit guarding VIPs, who failed in his bid to become a ruling party MP from his Ruhama County constituency.

"They are seeking an injunction from Uganda's attorney general to stop Robert Kyagulanyi and his supporters from carrying out their operations until they register," the Nile Post quotes the plaintiff's lawyer as saying.

The case file was taken up just days after Kyagulanyi announced he was ready to defeat veteran Museveni in a free and fair election come 2021.

Cronyism

In an exclusive interview with RFI, Kyagulanyi accuses the 74-year-old president of "using the Public Order Management Act to crack down on our freedom of movement and association".

"Since music has been our main way of communication, they have proposed regulations blocking me from performing even outside the country - after banning my music from being played on both radio and television," Bobi Wine complained.

He criticises Uganda's attorney general's tabling of "ridiculous reforms aimed at banning our movement from associating with other change-seeking political parties".

Kyagulanyi was speaking to RFI as he travelled to the western Ugandan town of Kasese to attend a funeral. "We have now been intercepted by the military on our way to the burial," he later wrote in a text message. "We don't know what's next."

The pop star launched his bid for Uganda's highest office on 24 July in Kampala.

He followed up the event by honouring an invitation to speak at a church gathering in Museveni's western stronghold of Rukungiri, where he was surprisingly welcomed by ecstatic crowds, according to media reports.

The opposition lawmaker is facing charges of treason over his alleged role in the stoning of the president's motorcade in the West Nile region in August 2018. Kyagulanyi has claimed that Kampala may be delaying the trial to use it as a political weapon.

"They have no way to stop us and they end up doing various things that expose them in the long run," he says.

The 37 year-old's rather short political experience is the subject of a column published by the Kampala-based New Vision newspaper.

Magnet for change?

The author Ssemanda Allawi says that in the wake of his unveiling of the People Power coordination team, mainstream media and social media was inundated with talk of betrayal by key opposition politicians furious that they had been sidelined.

Allawi believes Bobi Wine's movement risks being swallowed up by opposition party oligarchs.

"I represent change and nothing else," Kyagulanyi declares in a reassuring tone. "The role I have to play is that of a magnet, that brings together all these people, so that under the law we can turn our country into the nation we all want to live in."

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