25 January 2021

Quick Take – Uganda Election 2021: Protests, Riots and House Arrests

On January 14 2021, the Ugandan electorate re-elected Yoweri Museveni of the National Resistance Movement as the President of Uganda. Museveni, who has ruled since 1986, faced major opposition from Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly called Bobi Wine, a singer, actor, businessman and politician of the National Unity Platform.

What started as a political campaign escalated into protests and riots after Bobi Wine’s arrest for allegedly violating COVID-19 protocols by organizing rallies with more than 200 people. The arrest resulted in a violent clash between Bobi Wine’s supporters and security forces that led to the death of at least 37, injury of more than 500, and arrest of more than 350 people.

During the course of Bobi Wine’s campaign, several members of his entourage, aides, and bodyguards were either arrested, jailed or even killed. When asked, Museveni described those killed or injured as “rioters”.

Wole Soyinka, a Nobel Laureate explained that one of the consequences of the infamous Capitol Hill riot in the United States will be the diversion of the world’s attention at the expense of Uganda’s democracy. He described the election as “crucial for the African continent”. David Rubonga, Secretary General of the N.U.P, criticized Bobi Wine’s arrest saying it is only motivated by repression, as Museveni held similar rallies without any interruptions. 

Two days before the election, the Ugandan government effected a social media ban amidst rising tensions. The European Union and the United States refused to observe the election due to transparency and credibility issues.

It’s been over a week after the Uganda Electoral Commission declared Yoweri Museveni the winner of the 2021 Ugandan presidential election and opposition leader, Bobi Wine and his family is still under house arrest with the military camping outside his premises. This happened following an accusation of electoral fraud by Bobi Wine on Twitter where he made mention of the military stuffing ballot boxes.

If we compare the activities of the Ugandan Bush War which led to the removal of the dictator, General Idi Amin, by the National Resistance Army (NRA) under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni and the recent happenings in Uganda, it may appear as though Museveni has subtly adopted the idea of a dictatorship himself.

By Preye Goodness

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