Moviemaker jailed in Uganda

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A Ugandan court jailed an independent filmmaker after he was accused of singing subversive songs while producing a documentary about a pop star seeking to unseat the long-serving president, his attorney said.

The jailing of Moses Bwayo is part of what government critics call an escalating clampdown on independent media and the opposition ahead of a presidential election in the east African country next year.

Bwayo was first arrested on February 24 filming a documentary on Bobi Wine, the pop star-turned-legislator who wants to wrest power from 75-year-old President Yoweri Museveni, in office for more than three decades.

After several days, he was freed on a police bond and ordered to report back. When he did, he was taken to court, charged and remanded, his lawyer Caleb Alaka said.

“I applied for bail but the magistrate gave a deaf ear and remanded him,” Alaka told Reuters.

According to a charge sheet, Bwayo and eight others are accused of assembling unlawfully near a police barracks in Kampala and singing songs “subverting or promoting subversion of the government of Uganda.”

He is due to return to court for a bail application on Friday. The eight others were also remanded in jail.

Wine emerged as a strong challenger to the veteran president, often using music to criticise government and woo supporters.

Rattled by Wine’s good connection with youth, authorities use security forces to crack down on supporters through arrests and the use of teargas and beatings to disperse rallies.

In 2018, Wine and other opposition lawmakers were beaten by security forces after attending a political rally and he sought treatment abroad.

Joel Ssenyonyi, a spokesman for Wine, confirmed Bwayo was back in jail, after following the politician for a documentary on behalf of a foreign media company.