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Bobi Wine released from jail; Charged with COVID-19 violations

Two days after his arrest which created sporadic protests in which 37 people died, a court in Uganda has charged presidential candidate and reggae musician Bobi Wine with breaching COVID-19 regulations on Friday.

The court granted Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, bail of 1m shillings ($269) and told the 38-year-old politician to limit rallies to a maximum of 200 people. He is to also to avoid any processions to or from the campaign venue.  

His arrest triggered sporadic protests in Kampala and other areas.  His supporters blocked roads, stalled traffic and demanded his release.

In his defense, Wine used a televised court appearance in Iganga, eastern Uganda on Friday which he told the court that President Yoweri Museveni, the leader of Uganda, who is seeking a sixth term in office, should be in the dock, not him. “It’s in my opinion that this case shouldn’t be Uganda versus Kyagulanyi. This case should be Uganda versus Museveni,” said Wine.  Museveni recently  had lawmakers remove the age limit for presidency in Uganda. 

Wine further said that, “I am not here because I committed a crime. I am here because I offered myself to lead Ugandans into ending 35 years of a dictatorship,” Wine said. “Let Museveni know that we are not slaves and we shall not accept to be slaves. We shall be free.”

Wines’ arrest has led to the worst unrest seen in Uganda for many years. Uganda has never had a peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence in 1962. The Ugandan army was deployed to the streets of Kampala and several other cities, and live ammunition was used against unarmed protesters.

The popular presidential candidate has been attracting massive crowds and attention around the world.  His popularity has rattled the ruling National Resistance Movement.  

At a rally held in the Karamoja region on Thursday, Museveni, 76, told the public that the protesters were “being used by outsiders … homosexuals and others who don’t like the stability and independence of Uganda. But they will discover what they are looking for. We shall not tolerate confused people. They are playing with fire.”

This has not been the first arrest for Wine since he entered politics.  Earlier this month, Wine was arrested after he was successfully certified as a presidential candidate for the 2021 elections.  He has sought medical care in the United States in August.  

Wine entered formal politics in 2017 when he won a seat in Uganda’s national assembly.  Since then, he has been badly assaulted and detained several times. 

His supporters have also been beaten and detained at his rallies.  Despite his obstacles, the musician is still full speed ahead with his bid for president of Uganda.

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