Uganda‘s opposition leader Bobi Wine denounced “torture” and “humiliation” on Tuesday after security forces lifted a blockade of his home in place since a disputed January 14 vote he lost to long-serving President Yoweri Museveni.
Soldiers and police left the 38-year-old pop star’s large compound, in a leafy northern suburb of the capital Kampala, in compliance with a court order and under pressure from foreign powers including the United States.
“It has been an experience of isolation, of torture, of humiliation, having our compound turned into a military garrison,” Wine told Reuters from his garden, wearing a red beret with the words “People Power. Our Power.”
“Having our employees traumatised, beaten, an experience of hunger. We were not allowed to access our garden. But again, it has been a reminder that we can overcome any kind of stress,” he added.
Blockaded at home since he voted, Wine has alleged that soldiers touched his wife’s breasts when she sought food in the garden, his gardener was assaulted, food ran out, and there was no milk for an 18-month-old niece trapped with them.
The government said security forces were there for Wine’s own protection, police said food was delivered by a motorcycle courier each day, and the army denied his wife was assaulted.
With the vote behind him and fraud protests failing to gain significant traction, Museveni, 76, appears to be calculating that he can mollify pressure from Western allies to free his rival without significant risk to his power base.