He’s been arrested multiple times, seen dozens of his supporters killed or injured by Ugandan authorities and on Tuesday, had his security personnel and car shot at by rubber bullets and tear gas to stop him from attending a rally.
The vicious crackdown on Bobi Wine finally reached a limit.
Bobi Wine stepped out of the car to question military officers why they were shooting at him and his team. This was their response!
– Admin pic.twitter.com/7w5twNCyvp
— BOBI WINE (@HEBobiwine) December 1, 2020
As one reporter tweeted: “Only Zimbabwe 2008 comes close to the level of violence seen.”
“With effect from today, I am suspending my campaign until further notice,” Wine said on Wednesday while addressing a news conference near the capital Kampala.
“We are going to the electoral commission headquarters to inquire why we are being tortured by security institutions… our campaign is affected by police brutality.”
Local and foreign media are also being stifled ahead of the country’s polls.
The article continues below
Get your free PDF: COVID-19. How Africa can navigate the pandemic
Leaders of all stripes are scrambling to contain the fallout.
Complete the form and download, for free, The Africa Report’s COVID-19 How Africa can navigate the pandemic. Get your free PDF by completing the following form
According to Reporters Without Borders, Uganda’s press freedom index for 2020 ranked 125 out of 180 countries.
Museveni’s government continues to be accused of suppressing Ugandan journalists through arrests, intimidation and attacks “especially against those covering the campaign of opposition candidate Bobi Wine,” reported CBC.
Opposition parties and election observers say voting come January is unlikely to be free or fair.
Museveni for life?
Since 2017, Bobi Wine entered politics with the aim of ending the decades-long rule of 76-year-old President Yoweri Museveni after he changed the law to remove age limits that would bar from him running in the upcoming elections.
The longtime ruler is set to run for a sixth term in the general elections set for 14 January 2021.
Tuesday’s outbreak comes after Wine was arrested on 18 November unleashing a major crackdown of his supporters who hit the streets demanding his release.
54 people were killed during those protests.
At the time, authorities said he was arrested for allegedly participating in “unauthorised assemblies and processions amidst the threat of COVID-19 in Uganda,” said police spokesman CP Fred Enanga, in a statement.
During a televised speech on Sunday, President Museveni announced that those who were killed during the protests after Wine’s arrest would be compensated.
Looking to 2021
Although Wine says his campaign is suspended “until further notice,” it’s likely he will push ahead.
This period close to elections is a repeated pattern in Uganda. Its campaign periods follow the same mold of candidates and their supporters withstanding state intimidation and pressure, or stepping down, leaving the door wide open for Museveni.
The 76 year-old incumbent president has essentially pushed out all other viable candidates.
Kizza Besigye opted out of the 2021 elections, leaving 38 year-old Wine as the most visible opposition figure in the race – until Wednesday. Others on the ballot include former army commander Mugisha Muntu, Nancy Linda Kalembe, the only female on the ballot, and John Katumba, a 24-year-old.
READ MORE Uganda: Can Bobi Wine unseat Yoweri Museveni?
Wine, however, has received the full attention of Museveni crackdown.
Speaking via a live facebook feed last week on Friday, Wine told his supporters to ‘not listen to what Mr Museveni tells you that we are funded by foreigners; we are funded by Ugandans who feel that we are on the right course. Fighting a dictator is not easy because today he will blackmail you that you are violent and the other day he will say you are funded by foreigners.”
Understand Africa's tomorrow... today
We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.View subscription options