KAMPALA (Reuters) – Ugandan pop star turned opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi pledged on Thursday to proceed what he calls a battle for freedom for hundreds of thousands of oppressed fellow residents, after returning to his nation from the USA.
Ugandan musician turned politician, Robert Kyagulanyi addresses his supporters outdoors his dwelling after arriving from the U.S. in Kampala, Uganda September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Newton Nambwaya
The return of the 36-year-old musician, recognized by his stage title of Bobi Wine, has rattled the federal government headed by 74-year-old President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in energy since 1986 and leads a nation the place almost 80 % of the inhabitants is beneath the age of 30.
Although a political novice — he was elected in a parliamentary by-election final 12 months — Kyagulanyi’s reputation has skyrocketed significantly amongst disillusioned youths who say they see few prospects below the rule of Museveni.
When Kyagulanyi arrived at Entebbe Worldwide Airport from the USA, police escorted him right into a automobile and whisked him to the capital Kampala the place his whereabouts had been for a time unknown, main supporters for some time to worry he had been arrested.
He had acquired medical remedy in the USA for accidents which he mentioned had been sustained throughout torture by safety forces final month. The federal government has denied any mistreatment however says it’s investigating.
However Kyagulanyi later appeared atop a automobile outdoors his dwelling in Kampala to deal with a whole lot of cheering supporters.
“I’m resuming instantly … I’m on the mission already, I’m on the battle for freedom and liberty already,” he mentioned, surrounded by throngs of individuals.
Leaning on a cane, he mentioned his “need for liberty” was as sturdy as “the need of the hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands of individuals in Uganda to be free.” Ugandans, he mentioned, had been “slaves in our personal nation”.
His supporters had earlier within the day defied a heavy safety presence and gathered at his residence to welcome him, however as soon as he arrived by police escort, safety forces didn’t try to cease crowds from gathering at his dwelling.
A lot of his supporters wore purple t-shirts and hats. The colour has come to be related along with his “Folks Energy” motion, and demonstrators at Ugandan embassies in London, Nairobi and elsewhere have donned the identical coloration throughout protests.
Police had on Wednesday banned rallies to welcome Kyagulanyi dwelling and mentioned they might escort him to his dwelling. The authorized foundation for the escort was unclear.
Forward of Kyagulanyi’s arrival, safety forces had deployed across the airport and the freeway linking it to Kampala to forestall supporters from greeting him. Armored personnel carriers and police autos lined the route and journalists had been prevented from touring to the airport to cowl the arrival.
Kyagulanyi is more and more seen as posing a major problem to Museveni, who has dominated since 1986.
His message – that younger Ugandans want a dynamic new head of state to sort out the myriad issues they face – has electrified residents who say they’re fed up with corruption, unemployment, and state repression of dissent.
The federal government denies allegations of corruption and of stifling opposition.
Museveni has gained reward within the West for his help in opposition to militant Islam and his position as power-broker within the unstable Nice Lakes Area. Uganda has additionally welcomed overseas traders reminiscent of France’s Whole, China’s CNOOC and Britain’s Tullow as a part of a plan to start out pumping oil from 2021.
However the authorities is dealing with rising criticism from its allies, significantly most important donors the USA and the European Union, who’ve deplored the torture alleged by opposition politicians together with Kyagulanyi.
Kyagulanyi attracted a youth following by way of songs important of Museveni and his standing rose greater attributable to an incident in August by which his driver was shot useless and he was detained and charged with treason over what authorities mentioned was the stoning of the president’s convoy.
The politician, who has pleaded not responsible to the treason expenses, mentioned he was crushed with an iron bar in detention in northern Uganda. The federal government denies that he was mistreated.
Reporting by Elias Biryabarema and Francis Mukasa; Writing by Maggie Fick; Enhancing by Richard Balmforth