Ugandan presidential hopeful under house arrest

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A Ugandan pop singer and lawmaker seeking to challenge veteran President Yoweri Museveni said he was under house arrest, as the US government criticised what it called authorities’ “heavy-handed” use of force against citizens.

Police and military personnel used teargas and water cannon on Monday to disperse a large group of Bobi Wine supporters gathered for a concert at a lakeside beach resort, footage from local NTV showed.

Before the concert, Wine, real name Robert Kyagulanyi, was taken from a vehicle near the beach by police footage showed. Wine said he was taken to his home in a northern suburb of Kampala.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday the singer said he was blocked from leaving his home by security personnel, who told him he was under house arrest.

“Police and the military have been deployed at my residence since yesterday, after the violent arrest. They surrounded my fence and installed barricades on roads to my home,” Wine tweeted.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment about the alleged house arrest.

Museveni has ruled the East African country since 1986 and is expected to stand again in 2021 after a court cleared the way for him to seek re-election.

The Supreme Court ruling dismissed a legal challenge to 2017 constitutional amendments removing a 75 year age limit clause, which would have made Museveni (74) ineligible to stand.

Wine (37) built support since becoming a member of parliament two years ago and intends to run for president. Many young Ugandans are drawn to him by criticism of Museveni often delivered in his lyrics.

In recent months authorities repeatedly cancelled his shows, citing a range of reasons including alleged failure to comply with public order management laws.

Wine and his supporters accuse security personnel of cancelling shows as retaliation for his political ambitions.

The US embassy in Kampala criticised the blocking of Wine’s shows and access to radio talk shows by other opposition politicians.

“We join the many Ugandans asking why their government recently blocked musical concerts and radio talk shows, disrupted peaceful demonstrations and rallies and deployed heavy-handed security forces against peaceful citizens,” the embassy said in a statement.

Government previously accused opposition politicians of using talk radio shows to encourage violence.