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Uganda ends house arrest of defeated opposition leader Bobi Wine

26 January 2021 - 12:02 By Reuters
Ugandan opposition leader and pop star Bobi Wine.
Ugandan opposition leader and pop star Bobi Wine.
Image: Abubaker Lubowa/Reuters/ File photo

Ugandan troops have withdrawn from around the home of opposition leader and pop star Bobi Wine, ending his house arrest since a January 14 election won by long-serving President Yoweri Museveni.

With the election behind him and fraud claims by Wine failing to gain traction, Museveni appears to be calculating that he can mollify pressure from Western allies to free his rival without significant risk to his power base.

The withdrawal of security forces, which the government had said were for Wine's own protection, complied with a court order on Monday. A Reuters correspondent on the scene confirmed the move, though Wine was yet to appear by midmorning at his large compound in a leafy northern suburb of the capital Kampala.

Former guerrilla leader Museveni, 76, has long been a Western ally, receiving copious aid and sending troops to trouble spots including Somalia to fight Islamist militants.

But foreign governments have become increasingly frustrated at his reluctance to cede power and crackdowns on opponents.

Wine, 38, had been besieged at home since voting in the presidential poll where he rode a wave of youth disillusionment to challenge Museveni's 34-year rule.

The incumbent was declared winner with 59% of votes versus 35% for Wine, who had for years denounced corruption and nepotism in his songs. The opposition rejected the result, alleging fraud which the government denies.