Ugandan politician and entertainer, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly known by his stage name Bobi Wine, who was expected to discuss the declining state of democracy in the United Kingdom Parliament was unable to make the debate, no thanks to an appearance before a Ugandan court.
The U.K. parliamentary debate was to take place on Tuesday, January 8, 2019, with Bobi Wine in attendance, but the musician cancelled his scheduled travel because he was expected to be present in court to face the treason charges against him. In a telephone interview, Bobi Wine’s aide, Nicodemus Musoke, told Daily Monitor that the Ugandan MP “could not make it for the British Parliament debate since he was required to appear in court tomorrow to answer treason charges.”
Musoke added that “Usually when Bobi Wine flies out, he spends a couple of days abroad yet on Thursday, he has to attend court in Gulu for treason charges. He was, therefore, forced to cancel his travel.” The question however is, Was Bobi Wine not aware of his court date before accepting to be present at the U.K parliamentary date?
Belinda Atim, Bobi Wine’s travel coordinator, however, feels there is more to the story than meets the eye. One would not blame her though, after all, there have been speculations that the musician was banned from leaving the country, even though the police vehemently denies this.
Should this be the case, it is not the first time the MP is prevented from leaving the country, with regards to the same treason case. In August 2018, he was arrested at Entebbe Airport, when he attempted to leave the country for further treatment after being brutally tortured by presidential guards while in detention, although the armed forces deny torturing him.
Kyagulanyi and 32 others are expected to appear before a Magistrate Court in Gulu where they are facing treason charges. The State alleges that the accused, which include four Ugandan MP’s, Kassiano Wadri, Gerard Karuhanga, Paul Mwiru, threw stones at of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni’s car, smashing its hind windscreen during the Arua Municipality by-election campaigns on August 13.
Stockton Paul Williams, who spearheaded the House of Commons’s debate session said that owing to the declining state of democracy in Uganda, the U.K. must intervene. “U.K. has a legitimate interest as a friend and partner. We see attacks on politicians, we see the military moving to arrest and torture democratically elected politicians, that is something many countries around the world are concerned about.
“What we want to see is a strong Uganda but what we see at the moment is a strong President who is retaining power for himself, reducing the power of the people. We want a strong democracy, but I am not endorsing one person or the other,” Williams said.