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Ugandan Court Orders Police To Lift Bobi Wine’s House Arrest

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An Ugandan court has ordered security forces to cease surrounding the home of opposition leader, Bobi Wine, who has been under house arrest since the presidential election early January, his lawyer said on Monday.

Troops have blocked the 38-year-old pop star-turned-politician from leaving his house in a suburb of the capital, Kampala, since he voted in the January 14 election where he ran against long-serving incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni.

The politician’s lawyer, George Musisi told Reuters;

The judge ordered that the state and its agencies should immediately vacate his property and his right to personal liberty should immediately be reinstated.

Museveni, 76, who has been in power since 1986, was declared winner of the poll with 59% of votes versus 35% for Wine, who had for years denounced corruption and nepotism in his songs. He rejected the results, alleging fraud which the government denies.

Musisi said the judge also ruled that if there were any serious allegations against Wine, he should be brought before a court or police.

Monday’s ruling by the High Court in Kampala comes after a petition by Bobi Wine’s lawyers.

Dozens of people were killed during campaigning – many were shot by security forces.

The country during court session argued it needed to prevent him organising protests as Bobi Wine alleges that the election, in which he won 35% of the vote as National Unity Platform leader, was rigged.

Uganda’s Electoral Commission claim the vote was peaceful, but the EU, United Nations and several rights groups have raised concerns. Aside from an African Union mission, no major international group monitored the vote.

In a phone interview with the BBC days after the poll , Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, said he was “worried about my life and the life of my wife“.

According to reports, armed police and soldiers have been stationed outside the musician-turned-politician’s residence, not allowing anyone in or out.

Several security operatives have been patrolling the neighbourhood.

Army spokesperson Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso has told the BBC that the security agencies will respect the court order

If the security forces withdraw immediately, Bobi Wine still has at least four days to file a court petition challenging the result of the vote. If he takes that route, the court must hear and rule on the petition within 30 days.

National Unity Platform officials had told the newsmen that a way forward had not been mapped, as they were unable to access their party president.

In a Facebook Live address on Friday, Bobi Wine said Ugandans had a right to protest if they so wished, though he did not outright call on his supporters to take to the streets.

He is not the first Ugandan opposition leader to be kept under home confinement. Kizza Besigye was kept under house arrest for more than two months after 2016 election.

Following the 2011 election, Dr Besigye launched a series of walk-to-work protests, rather than challenge the poll result in court. They were all violently broken up by the security forces.

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