Ugandan pop star turned leading opposition figure, Bobi Wine, on Thursday said he was ready to take on veteran President Yoweri Museveni in 2021 elections despite a string of arrests seen as a bid to silence him.
Now an opposition MP, the singer is a figurehead for young people who have grown up knowing only one president, 74-year-old Museveni and are desperate for change.
“If my team decides that I am the right person to challenge President Museveni I am ready to take him on,” Wine, 37, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, told Agence France-Presse in an interview in Paris.
Wine was arrested in late April for allegedly staging an illegal protest in 2018, charges fellow opposition MPs decried as ridiculous but was released from jail after just a few days in prison.
He is also still facing treason charges after he and 30 other opposition politicians were arrested in August last year for allegedly stoning Museveni’s convoy after a campaign rally.
He accused security forces of torturing and beating him while in custody, which authorities denied.
With his anti-government songs helping him win him a big following, analysts see Wine as a real challenger to the veteran president, who intends to run for a sixth term in 2021 after first coming to power in 1986.
“After 33 years, the Museveni dictatorship is very weakened. Indeed every dictatorship has an expiry date,” Wine said, adding that the “majority” of Uganda was with him.
“We are on the right side of history,” he added.
Wine is on a tour of several European capitals to give concerts and spread his message, although he was not scheduled to perform in Paris.
He insisted that peaceful handovers of power were possible in Africa, even by longstanding rulers, pointing to transitions in The Gambia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“We are confident that we can put an end to the Museveni dictatorship using a vote and civilised means,” he said.
Wine also said that he was in touch with Museveni’s longstanding opposition challenger Kizza Besigye about coordinating their efforts against the president.
“We are in constant touch with Dr Besigye and we believe that when we come together we will be able to put an end to President Museveni’s regime,” he said.