Ugandan Opposition Lawmaker Met With Large Military Presence Upon Arrival Back Home

Sep 20, 2018
Originally published on September 24, 2018 6:28 pm
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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Ugandan pop star and opposition lawmaker Bobi Wine returned to his homeland today. Wine had been in the U.S. for medical treatment following what he described as a brutal beating by presidential guards. When he got back to Uganda, Wine was welcomed by supporters and a massive military presence, as NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in foreign language).

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: The minute Bobi Wine's plane lands, he is bundled into a police vehicle. Hundreds of his supporters gather outside a police station not far from his home because they think the opposition leader, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has been arrested again.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in foreign language).

PERALTA: Troops patrol the streets with assault rifles. At checkpoints on the highway to the airport, military men man machine guns. I stop to chat with a young guy standing in front of the police station. He says he just wanted to show the government that Ugandans want change.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: We are not free at all 'cause if someone being voted by people is being held in at police station, that means we are not free.

PERALTA: And just like that, everyone runs. A police truck rams into a protester. And without warning or even a yell, a line of troops carrying sticks begin to beat everyone within reach.

OFWONO OPONDO: Police had to heighten security to send a clear signal that lawlessness will not be tolerated.

PERALTA: That's government spokesman Ofwono Opondo. He says Bobi Wine had threatened to lead a procession across a busy highway.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Singing in foreign language).

PERALTA: Police eventually drop off Bobi Wine at his house. The ghetto president, as he calls himself, lets the whole neighborhood party in his front yard. Random people give speeches from his porch.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: We are saying...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: ...It is the high time...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Hey.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: ...Museveni hand over power to Bobi Wine.

(CHEERING)

PERALTA: Aida Nakuya, who is sitting on the side of the house, says she is here to let Bosco, as Ugandans derisively call Museveni, know that Bobi Wine has support. Through beatings or intimidation, she says, they will stay here.

AIDA NAKUYA: And naturally we want to show Bosco who is the so-called president of the Republic of Uganda for now that the generational leader is here.

PERALTA: Museveni was a hero to a previous generation, she says, and he must understand that young Ugandans have their own man now. Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Kampala. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.