Pop star Bobi Wine arrives in US for treatment after 'brutal torture' for opposing Ugandan president

Musician has been accused treason for opposing President Yoweri Musaveni 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Monday 03 September 2018 00:26 BST
Ugandan singer-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, appears at the High Court in Gulu, northern Uganda, on 27 August 27, 2018.
Ugandan singer-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, appears at the High Court in Gulu, northern Uganda, on 27 August 27, 2018.

A pop star turned politician who claimed to have suffered "brutal torture" in his Uganda homeland, has arrived in the US for medical treatment.

Better known by his stage name Bobi Wine, youth movement leader Robert Kyagulanyi posted a picture on Twitter of himself sitting in a wheelchair, holding crutches, in what appears to be an airport corridor.

He claimed his injuries had been inflicted by presidential guard soldiers in the east African country, adding that they had blocked his travel for the week prior to his arrival.

He tweeted: "Safely arrived in the US where I'll be receiving specialised treatment following the brutal torture at the hands of SFC soldiers. We thank the world for standing with us. I will soon tell you what exactly happened to me since 13th August and what is next.”

The Ugandan government has denied his allegations.

It is unclear where he landed in the US he has arrived but his lawyer Robert Amsterdam has said it was Boston.

He added that Mr Kyagulanyi will travel on to Washington DC.

The pop star had attempted to travel to the US earlier but had been stopped by police and taken to a hospital in Kampala.

It was alleged that he was involved in an act of treason along with other members of the opposition last month, when President Yoweri Musaveni’s motorcade was pelted with stones.

His detention caused sporadic protests in some parts of the capital Kampala.

Mr Kyagulanyi’s colleague, politician Francis Zaake has also been blocked from travelling abroad to seek medical care. He remains in a hospital in Kampala.

Bobi Wine has become a voice for the youth of Uganda who are opposed to the 74-year-old Mr Musaveni’s 32 years in power.

Last year, the president changed the Constitution in order to remove an age limit on the presidency.

Mr Kyagulanyi does not actually belong to a political party, but his popularity propelled him to win a seat in Parliament in 2017.

Dozens of global musicians including Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Angelique Kidjo, and Femi Kuti last week issued an open letter condemning his treatment.

In his first public appearance after his arrest had to walk with support and appeared to cry.

The petition had been started by Rikki Stein, the former manager for Nigerian music legend Fela Kuti who had been a fervent critic of Nigeria’s military regime during his career.

The treason charges have heightened concerns about a crackdown on the opposition in the East African nation.

Mr Museveni, a close US security ally, has spoken in recent days about "unprincipled politicians taking advantage of our unemployed youth to lure them into riots and demonstrations".

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