Friday, August 24, 2018

Uganda Charges Pop-Star Lawmaker With Treason
Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly known as Bobi Wine, a Ugandan pop star-turned lawmaker, in court on Thursday in Gulu.

Associated Press
Aug. 23, 2018

KAMPALA, Uganda — The Ugandan government filed a treason charge on Thursday against a pop star-turned-lawmaker who is a major critic of the country’s longtime president.

Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly known as Bobi Wine appeared weak and struggled to walk into court. His lawyer said he was severely beaten in custody, an accusation the government denied.

It was the first time Mr. Ssentamu had been seen in public since his Aug. 13 arrest that outraged leading musicians from around the world. He clenched his fists as he greeted supporters and a colleague wrapped a scarf in the colors of Uganda’s flag around his shoulders.

Mr. Ssentamu, 36, was arrested with other lawmakers while campaigning for a candidate, Kassiano Wadri, in the northwestern town of Arua. He had been charged with illegal possession of firearms after he was accused in the stoning of President Yoweri Museveni’s motorcade. The president, too, was campaigning in Arua, for a rival candidate who eventually lost.

Mr. Ssentamu’s driver was shot and killed in the episode, allegedly by security forces.

Mr. Ssentamu, who was elected to parliament last year, has emerged as an influential critic of Mr. Museveni, especially among many educated young people who cannot find work in Uganda, where hospitals often lack basic medicines, and main roads are dangerously potholed.

He has protested an unpopular social media tax as well as a change to the constitution that did away with the presidential age limit of 75. That enabled Mr. Museveni, 74, who has been in power since 1986, to seek re-election in 2021.

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