The Ugandan opposition leader, Bobi Wine has on Tuesday called on all Ugandans to “rise up peacefully and unarmed” in protest against President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the East African country for nearly four decades.
Museveni won a sixth term in office in January with 58 per cent of the vote. His main rival was Wine, who came second with 35 per cent and condemned the election as rigged.
The singer-turned-lawmaker refused to concede that he lost the elections. He challenged it in court, saying he won the day.
It did not take long before the 39-year-old withdrew his petition, saying the judiciary was stacked in favour of Museveni.
The politician made an address at the headquarters of his National Unity Platform (NUP) in Kampala. He said the time had come for public demonstrations against Museveni, who took power in 1986 and has ruled ever since.
In his words:
“I call upon you to rise up peacefully and unarmed to demonstrate against the regime that has oppressed us, exploited us and turned us into slaves in our own country.”
“We invite you to march to your respective district offices and seek answers,” he added without saying when the protests would take place.
Demonstrations against the arrest of Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, in November during the election campaign were brutally dispersed by security forces. This claimed the lives of at least 54 people.
Since the January 14 election, the opposition has alleged that security forces have been abducting their supporters.
Museveni and government officials initially denied these claims. However, they went on to admit that citizens accused of plotting against the state were being held by the military and other security agencies.
“We call upon all the citizens who feel oppressed, the women whose sons are missing, the Ugandans who voted and your results were shortchanged, all the oppressed Ugandans, come out and peacefully demonstrate against that impunity,” Wine admonished.
The police have since declared Wine’s call for protests illegal and warned: “organisers of these unlawful demonstrations to desist from participating in any unlawful activities”.
A statement released by the Ugandan police on Monday night reads:
“The police will not hesitate to arrest and charge in courts of law anyone, who will be found participating in these illegal activities.”
A joint police and military patrols have blocked off several roads in Kampala. Also, a police helicopter buzzed low over the NUP premises ahead of Wine’s announcement on Tuesday.