Judge orders release of Ugandan Bobby Wine from house arrest

Kampala – A judge on Monday ruled that Ugandan security forces could not detain presidential rival Bobby Wine inside his home, reprimanding authorities for keeping the candidate under house arrest after the disputed election.

Wine, whose real name is Kiagulani Sassentamu, has been in an election since January 14 when Ugandans voted in an election where the singer-turned-politician was President Yoweri Museveni’s main rival. Ugandan authorities say Wine could only leave his home under military security on the outskirts of the capital, Kampala, as they fear his presence could provoke riots.

The judge, however, said in his ruling that Wine’s home was not a suitable detention facility and noted that authorities would have to criminalize him if he threatened a public order.

Wine’s allies have welcomed the courtroom victory, but it remains to be seen whether the authorities in this East African country will respect the judge’s order, and in many cases the same national order has been ignored.

According to official results, Museveni won the election with 58% of the vote and Wine has 34% of the vote. Wine insisted that he had won and said he could prove that the military was filling ballot boxes, casting ballots on behalf of the people and driving voters away from polling stations.

Owen accused Mesveni of “coup” in last week’s election and called on his supporters to protest his loss in a non-violent manner. But on Friday he suggested in a statement that he probably would not be able to go to court to challenge the government’s findings because there would be legitimacy to Museveni’s victory because of concerns about potential damage. He said he would announce the decision “in a few days.”

Despite failing in his bid to remove Museveni, Wine, 38, has emerged as the country’s strongest opposition figure. He will be named the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly after his Nationalist Party won at least 56 seats, the largest in the opposition. This number could reach to1 after the final results are announced.

The party of the National Resistance Movement of Maceveni has more than 300 seats, a perfect majority that allows it to advance its agenda without consulting the opposition.

Museveni, 76, has dismissed allegations of vote-rigging, calling the election “the most fraudulently free” since independence from Britain in 1962.

Uganda’s election was marred by violence before polling day, as well as an internet shutdown that lasted four days. Social media sites are limited.

Uganda has never witnessed a peaceful transfer of power – as some in Maseveni’s party have called for him to preside over an orderly change.

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